How to Locate an Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy
You can find a life insurance policy by following these simple steps:
- Review Personal Documents
- Contact Known Insurance Companies
- Reach Out to Employers and Associations
- Check With Banks and Financial Institutions
- Use Online Tools and Resources
- Hire a Professional Investigator
The process of locating an unclaimed life insurance policy occurs if a company cannot locate the named beneficiary on a life insurance contract. In that case, the party of interest must take independent measures to secure their rightful death benefit.
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Why Policies Go Unclaimed
Unclaimed life insurance policies occur when the overseeing company and designated beneficiary fail to connect for any number of reasons, including:
- The policyholder did not inform their loved ones of existing coverage.
- The insurance company does not have updated contact information for the named recipients.
- The insurance company has gone out of business.
- The insurer has not received notice of their client’s passing.
If the death benefit cannot be claimed, all the policyholder’s premiums will have gone to waste. To avoid this, policyholders must notify their families of existing coverage and keep their insurer up-to-date on changing contact details. Otherwise, their mourning loved ones will have to play detective in order to claim their due.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you believe you were a life insurance beneficiary, there are steps you can take to discover an unclaimed policy.
1. Review Personal Documents
Begin your hunt for insurance evidence by sorting through the deceased’s physical records. Try looking through office drawers, file cabinets, or safety deposit boxes. Or, if you have access to their email account, search for the trail of digital receipts, notifications, and policy updates typically issued by insurance companies.
Next, review available credit card bills or bank statements that could point to monthly premium payments on an active policy. Some life insurance policies also accrue interest through attached cash value accounts. If you can access the deceased’s tax returns, look for evidence of passive income growth and try to trace that back to active coverage.
2. Contact Known Insurance Companies
Many individuals bundle insurance under one company. You might locate an affiliated life insurance policy if you know who insured your loved one’s car or home. Check their glove compartment for proof of coverage, or try to locate home or business insurance documents through any of the above-mentioned methods.
Call the companies listed on found documents, explain your situation, and ask about a possible life insurance policy. This insurer will likely need detailed personal information of the deceased, such as their social security number and address. You must also provide proof of your relationship to the policyholder and certify they have passed away.
3. Reach Out to Employers and Associations
Some corporations and trade unions allow members to buy into group life insurance. Though most organizations will not readily give up private information, you can at least find out who they insure through and contact that company directly. To garner this information, you may have to prove that your benefactor passed away and provide evidence of your relationship with them.
Though most employer-sponsored insurance expires once the policyholder leaves the company, some employers provide whole-term plans that remain active even after their members switch jobs. Contact older employers about an existing whole-term policy if you cannot find sufficient information from your benefactor’s most recent job.
4. Check With Banks and Financial Institutions
Generally, policyholders must uphold monthly premiums to retain insurance coverage. Contact your loved one’s financial institutions and try to trace their money back to a life insurance policy. Though paper statements would quickly reveal evidence of premium payments, most banks will not provide these unless you can prove yourself the executor of the deceased’s estate or hold Power of Attorney.
If your benefactor worked closely with accountants or financial advisors, these professionals would likely have copies of the original life insurance documents or premium receipts on file. Again, to procure such information, you may need to prove some authority over the deceased’s estate or legal team.
5. Use Online Tools and Resources
Some states provide online tools to help users find life insurance policies. However, if a policy goes unclaimed for too long, the overseeing company must relinquish its death benefit to the state where it was purchased. Beneficiaries can locate such rerouted funds through their state treasury department’s unclaimed money and property directory.
Because no official national insurance database exists, people living in states with fewer available resources can try using the NAIC’s Life Insurance Policy Locator Service. To find a life insurance policy through NAIC, you must provide basic information about the deceased and supplementary evidence qualifying you as a potential beneficiary.
6. Hire a Professional Investigator
If all else fails, you can always contract a private investigator or pay for an MIB search. Companies created MIB as a method of keeping track of old life insurance policies from 1996 and beyond. Users can determine if their benefactors applied for coverage and which company provided it by purchasing a $75 report.
How to Claim an Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy
Once you find your loved one’s insurer, you must gather and submit the following documents:
- Death Certificate: Obtainable through your county coroner’s office, state vital records department, or the mortuary that managed the body.
- Policy Documents: Printed or xeroxed copies often suffice if the original documents prove unrecoverable.
- Claimant’s Identification: You will need your social security number and an active driver’s license or passport.
- Proof of Relationship or Beneficiary Status: Birth certificates, marriage licenses, medical documents, or non-legal evidence of insurability are needed to confirm your relationship to the deceased.
- Complete Claim Form: Secure this document on the insurance company’s website. Check for typos to avoid further delaying your death benefit payout.
- Supporting Legal Documents: If possible, prove yourself as a named benefactor in the deceased’s will or uncover any additional medical or business records tying you together.
If everything has been submitted correctly, life insurance claims can take anywhere from two to eight weeks to process.
Dealing with a Contested Life Insurance Beneficiary
Occasionally, another party close to the deceased will contest a life insurance claim. For example, family members sometimes believe that a romantic partner could have manipulated a mentally incapacitated parent into changing their policy details. Or, this newer partner may argue that the deceased forgot to update their plan after a divorce or estrangement.
Protesting parties must file a lawsuit with the probate court handling the estate. The deceased’s insurance company cannot distribute death penalty funds until such a case resolves. If neither party can reach a compromise, the judge will decide who keeps the money based on their legal argument and documented evidence of insurable interest.
Preventing Policies From Going Unclaimed
While unknowing beneficiaries cannot prevent a policy from going unclaimed, future policyholders can avoid such complications by informing beneficiaries of their intentions to purchase coverage. If you have life insurance, let your loved ones know how to access any relevant documents and what company to contact after you die.
As soon as your insurer receives notice of your passing, they must legally contact all named parties on your policy to prepare your death benefit. To ensure smooth communication, regularly update all your beneficiaries’ addresses, contact information, and important personal details.
Putting It Together
Sometimes, people pass away before tying up all their loose ends. While lost life insurance policies can often be uncovered and claimed with a bit of detective work, it puts your beneficiaries in the stressful position of scrounging for their rightful death benefit. To avoid unnecessary confusion, inform your loved ones of your life insurance coverage, how much they will get paid after you die, and how to file a claim with your insurance provider. That way they don’t have a hard time finding out the details of your life insurance policy.