How to Find Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy
A Consumer Reports study found that one out of every 600 people receives a $2000 average benefit from an unclaimed life insurance policy. Life insurance companies actively look for beneficiaries, but they don’t always succeed. There are ways to track an unclaimed life insurance policy yourself without waiting for the insurance company if you think you might be a beneficiary.
Sorting through everything a loved one left behind can seem overwhelming when they pass away. Even though it’s hard to deal with paperwork when you’re grieving, life insurance benefits can be crucial for paying for a funeral, paying off debts, or helping surviving family members pay their bills.
What should you do if you don’t know if your loved one had life insurance or if you can’t find the policy? You can check a loved one’s safe deposit box, consult their financial advisors, or look through their records to locate their lost insurance policy. Continue reading for additional ways to locate an unclaimed life insurance policy.
Will a Life Insurance Company Contact You?
Even if you’re listed as the beneficiary on a life insurance policy, the insurance carrier won’t automatically contact you. Insurance carriers generally don’t know of a policyholder’s death until someone tells them or until they check the Death Master File maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act requires most insurance carriers to check this file at least semi-annually, looking for policyholders whose death benefits haven’t been claimed. If they find a match, they must make a good-faith effort to find the beneficiary within 90 days.
Although the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act does not apply to every state, the majority of large insurance companies follow its guidelines. However, only those whose deaths were reported to the SSA are included in the SSA’s Death Master File.
Before the insurance company reviews the SSA’s file, survivors frequently require life insurance benefits. Here are ten ways to locate a lost life insurance policy.
Search Their Files
Look for the life insurance policy in the paper and electronic files of your loved one. You might also find a copy of a life insurance application, which can be helpful: The application will include a list of any other life insurance policies they had when they submitted their application, in addition to indicating a potential insurance policy.
- Use the Life Insurance Policy Locator Service, a free tool from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. When you submit a request using this tool, participating insurance carriers are asked to search for policies.
- Use your state insurance department’s policy finder, which will direct your inquiry to all participating life insurance companies that sell policies within that state.
- If your state doesn’t have an online policy finder, contact your state’s insurance department for help locating the policy.
Ask Their Financial Advisors
Many people take time to set up life insurance policies to ensure their loved ones are cared for after their passing, in which case a common question might be, “How do I find out if I am a beneficiary on a life insurance policy?” Your loved one’s financial planner, accountant, attorney, or insurance agent may know of existing life insurance policies.
Contact Their Home or Auto Insurance Company
It is common practice for people to purchase life insurance and homeowners insurance from the same provider. Check with the company’s claims or customer service department to see if your loved one had life insurance as well as auto or home insurance.
Contact Their Current and Former Employers
Many employers offer group term life insurance as an employee benefit. Some companies even offer this insurance to spouses or dependents. Check with past and current employers of your loved one, their surviving spouse, and their children for life insurance policies through their company.
Look Through Their Bank Records
Bank statements or checks showing payments to insurance companies could help you track down a life insurance policy. You may need to contact bank officials to access their records and provide proof that you are entitled to this information.
Check Their Safe Deposit Box
Ask the bank how to get into the safe deposit box of your loved one if you have the key. You’ll likely be asked to provide evidence of your kinship. You can inquire with the bank where they had their accounts, examine canceled checks or bank records for payments to a bank, or look through their mail for notices requesting payment for the safe deposit box if you are unsure whether they had one.
Contact Organizations to Which Your Loved One Belonged
Contact professional associations, labor unions, fraternal organizations, credit unions, and other groups that you loved one belonged to. Like employers, organizations often offer group-term life insurance for members.
Review Their Tax Returns
Income tax returns may show interest income from a permanent life insurance policy with cash value. If your family member borrowed against a life insurance policy, the returns should show any interest paid on the loan.
Watch Their Mail and Email
Life insurance companies often send bills, statements, dividend notices, and other updates. Monitor the person’s mail and email for at least a year for this type of letter. Have physical mail redirected to your address or a P.O. box to prevent it from falling into the hands of identity thieves.
What if You Still Can’t Find the Life Insurance Policy?
If an insurance payout goes unclaimed long enough, the policy may end up as unclaimed property. This generally takes about three years, but this varies depending on the state. If a few years have passed and you haven’t found a life insurance policy, you can use The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators’ free search tool or MissingMoney.com to search for unclaimed property.
When you locate the life insurance policy of your relative, you or other beneficiaries will have a variety of options for how to get the death benefit. During a difficult time, seeking counsel from a financial planner can assist you in making educated decisions. The money from a life insurance policy can help you get out of debt, keep a good credit score, and live the life your loved one wanted for you. Use it wisely.