Insurance companies and the Internal Revenue Service are far from similar organizations, but sometimes they do require similar paperwork. Policy holders may be surprised to receive a request for a W-9 form from an insurance carrier, but it is a common process. W-9 forms, while typically the interest of the IRS and similar government agencies, can also provide insurance companies with key information, making W-9 forms for insurance an expedient method of sending insurers the required data. W-9 forms are easy to fill out, and a request for one by an insurer should not trouble you.
The W-9 form is formally called the Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification. It is a general form that helps the IRS "tag" each taxpayer with the proper identification number. It links either a Social Security number (for individuals) or an employer identification number (for businesses and other entities) to the location and name of a particular taxpayer. The form also includes information on certification requirements, such as being a U.S. citizen, and explanations on various business structures and how the W-9 rules apply to them.
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Insurance companies request a copy of these W-9 forms as a part of processing insurance information. In these cases, W-9 forms are often the simplest way to get necessary information. Like the IRS, the insurer needs to accurately identify the policy holder. The form neatly combines address information, name, classification and the identification number used for many financial purposes in one document. Rather than create a new form, insurers find it easier to simple request a W-9 for their own records.
Situations Requiring W-9 for Insurance
Not all insurers require people to send in a W-9 just to qualify for an insurance policy. Usually, insurers will ask for the form only if there is some issue with records. For instance, if a policy holder makes a claim for a specific event, the insurer may see that the address given does not match the address they have on file or that the Social Security number or name is slightly different. To clarify the issue, the insurance company will then ask for the W-9 to ensure there is no fraudulent activity.
Receiving a request for a W-9 form from your insurance company does not mean that you are being suspected of fraud or that your claim will be denied. In fact, some insurers update their records every year and may ask for a W-9 as a matter of course to make sure the information is complete. Because it is a tax form, the W-9 carries a lot of weight in the area of finance.