What Do I Do If My Name Is Misspelled as a Beneficiary on an Insurance Policy?

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A simple name misspelling can cause undo grief to the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. If you're the beneficiary of the policy, and the insured misspelled your name, not all is lost. Companies handle the situation in different ways, but in most cases, it depends on how obvious the misspelling is, whether the company has your Social Security number and if there are other forms of identification for you on the beneficiary form.

Simple Misspelling

In most cases, if you're a son or daughter of the insured, or a close relative, the insurance company uses both your name and your relationship to the insured as listed on the beneficiary form, such as child or spouse, to identify you. In that case, if the name is close but simply missing a letter, such as Shomaker for Shoemaker, or is a nickname such as Bob for Robert, it's a simple fix. You fill out the forms with the name on the beneficiary designation and write the correct name beneath it. When you sign the form, you'll also sign first the incorrect name and then your correct name. The same is true for the insurance check. While each company has its own methods, this is the most common, particularly for children and spouses.

Change of Name

For women who married or otherwise changed their name, the company normally requires other proof indicating the name change. In some instances, it might require a name change form with a copy of the certified court papers showing the name change, in the case of a divorce, or a certified marriage certificate, if the policy is in the person's maiden name.

Social Security Number

Some forms require the insured to list a Social Security number for the beneficiary. This makes any incorrect spellings easier to prove. In this case, you also list your name spelled incorrectly with the correct name below it. However, you also send a copy of your Social Security card with the beneficiary form.

Other Possibilities

Some insurance companies might require more documentation if the beneficiary name is incorrect. In those cases, it might require affidavits from family members to prove you are the person listed in the insurance policy as the beneficiary.

Call the Company or a Local Agent

The best method of finding out what to do is to call the insurance company's customer service line to seek aid in handling the problem. Since this is a far more common problem than you probably suspect, the company has a written procedure on file, and the service agent will tell you what it is.

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