How to collect the capital of a life insurance– Get a quote in minutes

The capital of a life insurance contract is paid to the persons named in the contract after the death of the insured, as long as all the conditions are met. Here is the procedure for claiming your capital, if you are, or think you may be, a beneficiary of life insurance.

Making contact with the insurer

In principle, insurers and mutuals must find the beneficiaries of a contract on the death of its subscriber (art. L. 132-8 of the Insurance Code and L. 223-10 of the Mutual Code). However, upon the death of the insured, we advise you to contact the insurer, the association of insureds (Afer, Agipi, etc.) or the mutual insurance company with which the contract of which you presume to be a beneficiary has been taken out.

You know the insurer

If you have the contract or an information notice, a subscription form, a statement of the situation, etc., you will find the name of the insurer there. These documents can also mention the name (s) of the beneficiary (ies), but not necessarily. If you are the beneficiary, the insurer will tell you what to do.

You don't know the insurer

If you do not know the name of the insurer, but you think you are the beneficiary of a life insurance contract because your parents or relatives have told you about it, write to Agira (see box above). Attach proof of the death of the subscriber to your letter (copy of the act or death certificate) and provide your contact details.

It also happens that the beneficiary clause of life insurance does not mention any name, but refers to a will filed with a notary. Going through a notary offers, in fact, advantages to the subscriber of the contract: total confidentiality with regard to the beneficiaries, the possibility of changing beneficiaries freely at any time and the certainty that the notary will inform the persons concerned of their rights. The only drawback for beneficiaries is that they will not be notified of the existence of the contract until the death of the subscriber.

Agira can search for the name of the insurer

The Association for the Management of Information on Risk in Insurance (Agira) acts as an intermediary between beneficiaries of life insurance contracts and insurance or provident companies. If you contact her because you think you have life insurance, she must send your request to these organizations within 15 days of receiving your letter. Insurers then have one month to let you know if the deceased had taken out a contract for you (see How to find out if you have life insurance). In fact, they refrain from responding, if they have not found any contract with you.

Our advice

Address all your requests to the general management of the insurance company by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt (LRAR). The searches will be carried out with greater diligence than if you make a simple phone call, which leaves no trace or date .

The constitution of the file

The insurer will wait until he has received a certain number of documents mentioned in the insurance contract before releasing the capital. This concerns in particular proof of the death of the insured and your status as beneficiary.

You can get a free extract of the death certificate from the town hall of the town where the death took place. As for your status as beneficiary, you will be able to prove it, depending on how you are designated in the beneficiary clause (spouse, civil partnership partner, cohabiting partner, child, nephew, third party, etc.), by presenting a copy of your document. identity, your family record book, your civil partnership or cohabitation certificate (or a joint declaration on honor if your town hall does not issue a cohabitation certificate) or a notoriety document established by the notary in charge of the succession (see How to unblock the bank accounts of a deceased person). Attach a bank identity statement (RIB) to speed up the payment of amounts.

Some organizations also require the original of the subscription form to pay the capital. This requirement, which can cause serious difficulties, especially if this document has been destroyed or lost, seems all the more abusive since insurers have a duplicate, which they are required to keep. Instead of the lost subscription form, the insurer can ask you and the other beneficiaries for a letter of acceptance of the contract specifying their references (or simply ask you to sign a pre-established letter of acceptance).

To know

When several beneficiaries have been clearly identified, the file documents can only be sent by one of them. Likewise, a declaration on the honor of the beneficiary (ies), on plain paper, certifying that an original has not been found, is valid for everyone.

Tax formalities

The capital will only be paid to you after full payment of any inheritance tax. These vary depending on the date of subscription of the contract, the age of the insured, and the amount of capital.

To allow beneficiaries to quickly cash in the capital, the tax authorities authorize them to make a partial declaration of inheritance concerning only life insurance (Cerfa form n ° 12321 * 05) before filing the main declaration of inheritance. You can obtain this form on (Individuals section, then Search for forms: printed n ° 2705-A), ask for it at a tax office, or at the notary in charge of the succession.

If you are missing information to complete the declaration (especially on the contract or the premiums paid), ask the insurer to provide it to you. The completed form must be submitted to the tax office of the domicile of the deceased. Depending on the case, the tax authorities will issue you a certificate of payment or non-exigibility of inheritance tax. You will then have to give it to the insurer to obtain the capital.

Our advice

To avoid paying the inheritance tax in advance, ask the insurer by recorded delivery to pay it for you. It will then deduct them from the capital.

Reduced formalities, if the capital is less than € 7,600

If you are the spouse or a child of the deceased, if you do not have a domicile abroad, and if the capital due to you does not exceed € 7,600 (under one or more contracts taken out by the deceased; art. 806-III of the CGI), tax formalities are lightened. You simply have to declare in writing to the tax authorities that the amounts due do not exceed € 7,600. Provide a copy of this declaration to the insurer.

Beyond 152,500 €, the formalities are cumbersome

If the sums that you must receive under one or more contracts taken out by the deceased are not subject to inheritance tax, but exceed € 152,500, the excess will be subject to a 20% levy (art. 990- I of the CGI). The payment of these rights is the responsibility of the insurer, who will deduct them from the capital. You must therefore give him a sworn certificate stating that you are not the beneficiary of any other life insurance contract or, on the contrary, that you have already used all or part of the € 152,500 allowance. under another contract. The insurer will thus be able to determine whether it should levy duties, if so, calculate their amount, and will thus be released from liability to the tax authorities if your declaration is incorrect. If you are the beneficiary of several life insurance contracts, you must send this certificate to each insurer.

Payment of capital

When you have gathered and sent all the documents in the file to the insurer, the latter will be able to settle the capital.

A period of 15 days to a month

In practice, the contracts provide for a time limit for settling the capital: in general, it is 2 weeks. In any case, be aware that the insurer has a maximum of one month to make the payment (art. L 132-23-1 of the Insurance Code). After this period, he will have to pay you, in addition, interest at the legal rate increased by half during the first 2 months (i.e. 1.065% in 2012) then, if the delay persists, at double the legal rate (i.e. 1.42% in 2012). Note also that, if the payment of the capital is delayed, the law requires insurers to revalue it from the first anniversary of the death of the insured at the latest and until receipt of the documents in the file (art. L 132- 5 of the Insurance Code). Savings therefore continue to grow.

Our advice

If the insurer is late in paying you the sums due when your file is complete, simply notify them that you will send a duplicate of the file to the Prudential Control Authority (ACP). This body is responsible for monitoring business practices in insurance and customer protection. Its intervention is effective and free. You can also contact a consumer association.

When the contract designates several beneficiaries, the insurer waits, in principle, to have all the supporting documents to establish the share of each. But if one of them cannot be found, the insurer does not block the capital indefinitely. It pays the share of each known beneficiary whose file is complete. Unclaimed shares remain available for 30 years, then they are paid into the Retirement Reserve Fund, and permanently lost for the untraceable beneficiary. In the event of the death of a beneficiary, his share reverts to the others, unless a different solution has been provided for in the beneficiary clause (his share will be paid to his representatives, for example).

You will receive the capital acquired by the insured upon his death

The amount paid to the beneficiary corresponds to the capital that the subscriber has built up over the years, depending in particular on his payments and the net return on his contract. If it is a euro contract, the interest is added each year and itself generates interest.

Naturally, the insurer will deduct from the capital all the advances it has granted to the subscriber, as well as the corresponding costs. The same will apply if he has advanced the inheritance tax.

Our advice

Request a wire transfer rather than sending a check, which avoids the risk of loss or embezzlement.

Reinvestment of sums

Many insurers or savings associations will give you benefits if you reinvest your capital with them in another life insurance contract. They can, for example, exempt you from entry fees and / or maintain the contract remuneration between the death of the insured and your new investment. However, take the time to compare the offers on the market. Currently, it is not uncommon to find life insurers charging nominal entry fees (1%) or even zero. Also, be aware that over the long term the entry fees – paid once and for all – weigh significantly less on the profitability of your investment than the average annual rate of remuneration, management fees and arbitrage fees.

Antonin Duvillard

For more information

“How to facilitate the payment of capital to your beneficiaries”, n ° 1027 du Particulier, p. 22.


Association for the management of information on insurance risk (Agira), 1, rue Jules-Lefebvre, 75431 Paris Cedex 09.

Prudential Supervisory Authority (ACP), Commercial practices control department, 61, rue Taitbout, 75009 Paris, 01 49 95 49 95.

Legal texts and case law