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How to Find Lost Life Insurance Policies
When someone close to you passes it forces you to deal with many uncomfortable issues as well as doing your best to sort through someone's entire life and possessions. Passwords to computers, safe deposit boxes, bills, and years of accumulated stuff make it difficult to properly administer an estate or execute a will. Another major issue is finding a lost life insurance policy. Who do you go to? What company did they use? It can all be so overwhelming.
In the following article we have done our best to provide you with the tools necessary to help you locate a lost life insurance policy, especially for life insurance beneficiaries. Hopefully the information below will help you on your journey.
Tips to find a lost life insurance policy
Nowadays, we know just how important life insurance can be in order to protect loved ones and provide them with money after passing.
However, there is one factor that often goes unsaid and that is how life insurance policies can be located after the insured passes away. For example, you may have known that your loved one had a policy in place without knowing who it was with or where the documents were being kept. If this is you, there is no need to panic, we've got you.
Below, we have listed some of the most useful steps that you can take to find a missing life insurance policy and start making the required claim.
1. Check bank statements
When someone sets up life insurance they may initially pay by credit card. However, normally companies require ongoing payments to be made via ETF or by check. So pull up the deceased's bank statements for the last year and see if any payments were made to financial institutions, such as any of the top life insurance companies. Once you locate the company you can simply give its claims department a call.
If you don't have immediate access to their bank statements visit their local bank. Some banks may allow you to see a recent statement if you are an immediate relative and the circumstances are explained. Here, you might be able to see where payments were being made.
2. Search for documents
If you have been looking for the documents for an extended period of time, this won’t be something you will want to hear but be sure to look through bank safe deposit boxes and if they had any storage spaces. Furthermore, look through their address books to see if it mentions the name of an insurer or even an agent. If there is a filing cabinet full of documents, check that they weren't using an old file with the wrong name to store the letters and such.
3. Contact financial professionals
If you have completed the steps above and really have no idea where to start, you should contact any professionals that the deceased used in their lifetime including accountants, investment professionals, attorneys, insurance brokers, and any others. If there was an estate planner involved, they should have information regarding the policy.
4. National policy locator app
This tool is provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). This app can help you find life insurance policies and annuity contracts of a deceased loved one.
When you submit a request the NAIC will ask participating life insurance companies to search their records to see if they have anything in your loved one's name. If it is located they will ask that company to contact the requester if they are the designated beneficiary or authorized to receive the policy information.1
To learn more about how to complete this request visit the NAIC's frequently asked questions page.
Although this tool can be useful, you should keep in mind that you will need to be the designated beneficiary, executor, or legal representative of your loved one to receive the policy information.
While this process is free and can be very useful, it is important to note that it can take up to 90 days to receive a response.
5. Search the mail
When a life insurance policy is in place, the policyholder should receive bills or statements every so often so another good tip is to search the mail. Of course, there is a danger that they have just received their annual bill and won’t have another for twelve months. In the best case scenario, they may have paid monthly which means you only have a maximum of one month to wait until the next bill comes to the door.
6. Contact employers
Whether it was their current employer at the time of death or previous employers, it could be a good move to get in touch because they will have details of any group life insurance that existed. Although most group life benefits will end on the final day of work, it could still be a good idea to get an overview of what policies were in place.
7. Contact fraternal groups
Check with any fraternal organizations, unions, associations, and professional membership groups, such as ABE for attorneys or AICPA for CPAs.
When it comes to finding a lost life insurance policy, the steps above are all quite common but there are others that are completely forgotten and the first is to check the previous two years’ tax returns. As well as interest paid, you should also be looking for any interest received from life insurance providers. When a permanent policy has been set up, the cash value section of the policy will build over time so interest income should occur regularly. Normally life insurance is not taxed but if cash was withdrawn above the policy basis, it is a taxable event.
9. Unclaimed property office
Sometimes, the life insurance company will be aware of the death of the insured but, if they cannot find the beneficiary or if they do not come forward, the death benefit passes over to the state. As long as you know where the policy was bought - perhaps you can find this information using our previous tips - you can contact the department of the state comptroller to see if they have the unclaimed money life insurance settlement property.
10. MIB policy locator
This is similar to the NAIC process except that this locator will cost $75 to complete. Along with the $75, they also require a completed application form and the original death certificate. You will need to mail these items to MIB Solutions, Inc.2
Similar to the NAIC process executors of an estate can order a report. If there hasn't been one appointed then a surviving spouse or closest surviving relative may be eligible to order a policy locator report.3
You will typically receive the results of the locator service within 21 business days. However, please note that the service can't find every policy out there. Refer to MIB's frequently asked questions page for more information.
11. Private investigator
So far, we have provided you with some superb solutions and at least one of them should allow you to find out the company name and this is all you need. In most cases, you will only need the name of the insurer to start the process of claiming the death benefit. However, we now have an option for situations that have you struggling to find anything at all - private investigators. With access to tools we could only dream of, sometimes this is the only solution and they will spend time digging deeper that we could attempt to find relevant information. Of course, this will cost some money (probably around $200 - $300) just as we saw with the last option.
How to avoid a life insurance policy being lost
If you want to avoid this happening again and prevent your immediate relatives from having to do the same for you in the future, make sure that your family talks about life insurance. You can check out some amazing quotes by using or life insurance cost calculator.
Although talking about death and money can be two tricky topics for some people, this is a conversation that needs to be had and it will only take a few minutes. As long as you tell people who your policy is with and where you store your documents, they will have everything they need to keep the process easy without any unnecessary pressure or stress.
How do I make a claim?
To start, you will need to contact the company and let them know that you wish to make a claim. As you may know, there are some documents that you will need to start the process and it normally begins with the death certificate and the claim form. When it comes to the death certificate, this can normally be obtained from the county recorder and you will need one certified copy per policy. For the claim form, this will be given to you by the insurer.
If you find the policy document, this will also be required. If it remains lost, you should be able to continue the process but it will require more paperwork as well as extensive background and identity checks as you would expect. Once the claim form has been sent, it is then just a waiting game and you will hear back from the company in good time.
Hopefully, we have helped you to locate a lost life insurance policy. As you can see, there are actually many different methods that people use so this is why we said that there was no need to panic just yet. If one step doesn’t work, continue down this list and keep trying different sources. At some point, you are likely to find a name and this is all you need to get the ball rolling. Once you know the name of the insurer, you can get in contact and the necessary arrangements can be made.
As we have said, the best way to prevent this from happening again or when you pass away is to share the appropriate information with the right people. If all the documents are readily available and loved ones have the correct information, it saves stress, time, and even money.