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How to Find Unclaimed Life Insurance Policies – See Details

How to Find Unclaimed Life Insurance Policies – You may not know if a loved one who passed away had a life insurance policy or not. Or, you may know one exists but are uncertain of its whereabouts or what steps to take once you find it.

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We’ll outline how to locate lost or unclaimed life insurance policies. It involves doing some simple detective work on your own, and there are online policy finder tools you can use, too.

What Is an Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy?

An unclaimed life insurance policy comes about when the policyholder passes away, and the beneficiary doesn’t contact the insurer to receive the death benefit. It could be that the beneficiary is unaware of the policy, forgot about it, has incomplete information, or cannot locate the policy.

Once you’re aware that a life insurance policy does exist, there are actions to take to try and track the unclaimed life insurance policy down.

Search Financial Records, Personal Files, and Tax Forms

Begin close to home and search personal records. These include files, safe deposit boxes and address books. If you find the names of insurance agents, brokers, and financial advisers, you can call to see if they kept their records. Bank and credit card statements might also show premium payments to a life insurance company.

And don’t ignore the departed IRS tax returns. A tax form and supplemental filings could show interest income from a permanent life insurance policy with cash value. Income tax returns may also show the interest paid on any loans if the deceased borrowed against their life insurance policy.

If possible, check the deceased person’s mail and email. The life insurance company may have sent a notice on the status of the policy, on dividends or cash value amounts, if, for instance, they had a universal life insurance policy.

If you can find out which homeowners insurance company and car insurance company your loved one used, reach out to the claims or customer service staff. People sometimes bundle life insurance with their auto or home insurance company.

Check with Past Employers, Professional Groups

Now expand the search by reviewing employers and other professional affiliations. Where had the policyholder worked and did an employer provide term life insurance or a whole life insurance option that the decedent chose? Was the relative or friend who died a member of a fraternal or professional association or union that gave them a policy?

Search Company Websites to Locate Life Insurance Policies

Another option is to go to life insurance company websites and see if they have online search tools you can use. Some major life insurance companies have policy locators to help potential beneficiaries determine if they’re able to collect.

Companies with policy locators include:

  • John Hancock
  • MetLife
  • New York Life

Government, State, and Industry Life Insurance Policy Finders

During your search, you might find that the life insurance company contacts you. Insurers often use the Social Security Administration’s “Death Master” file, which keeps records of all its recipients who died. Insurers compare their records to it.

The Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act requires most life insurance companies to check this database at least twice a year to find unclaimed life insurance policies. If a match is found, they must try to find the beneficiary within 90 days.

The Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act has been enacted in over 30 states but still doesn’t apply to every state. Also, only deaths reported to the Social Security Association are included.

The New York Department of Financial Services has a “lost policy finder.” It lets the executor or administrator of an estate, or even a member of the deceased’s immediate family or closest relative, create a search request, provided they submit basic information and a copy of the death certificate.

Other states that have online policy finders include:

  • Alabama
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas

Your own state comptroller’s Unclaimed Property Office could be helpful. If an insurer knows the policyholder died but couldn’t find the beneficiary, it must turn the death benefit over to the state. To find your state’s comptroller, use the free tool put out by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

While there is no national database for all life insurance policies, you can try using the NAIC’s Life Insurance Policy Locator Service. It’s a free tool, though you must have basic information about the person who passed and be a possible beneficiary to search records of participating life insurance companies.

Don’t Let Your Life Insurance Policy Go Unclaimed

A search for someone else’s life insurance policy is a reminder to put your own affairs in order. Be sure to tell your life insurance beneficiaries and your family members where to find your life insurance policy and related documents. If you have it in a safe deposit box, make sure they have access.

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