The death of a loved one is never easy. There is a lot to manage while dealing with grief.
If you aren’t sure if your loved one had a life insurance policy, this guide can help you find out.
4 Steps to Take to Find a Life Insurance Policy
Whether or not someone has a life insurance policy can be a game-changer for the loved ones they leave behind. Perhaps your loved one told you they had a life insurance policy, but never told you where to find it. Or perhaps they never said anything and you’re wondering if a policy exists. Use these steps as a guide.
Step 1: Check Personal Records and Belongings
The first step is to just start looking through your loved one’s documents. You may stumble upon the policy itself or clues that one exists. For example, look for notifications from insurance companies or premium payment receipts.
- Gather your loved one’s bank statements. Read through them to see if any regular payments were being made to a life insurance company.
- Go through the mail. Keep a close eye on the deceased’s mail for many months after their death. There may be policy premium notices, dividend notices, policy service notices or statements.
- Look through storage areas. Check storage areas for evidence of life insurance, such as the policy itself or payment receipts. Storage areas could be filing cabinets and desk drawers. Did your loved one have a safe or a safety deposit box? Check those as well. If you do not have access to the safety deposit box, you will need to bring the death certificate along with an executor’s testament to the bank. Spouses typically only need a death certificate and marriage certificate.
- Read through address books. Address books, whether they are paper or stored on a cell phone, may contain clues about a life insurance policy, such as the phone number to a life insurance company or agent.
- Review tax returns. Go through your loved one’s income tax returns from previous years to see if there are claims for interest earned on any life insurance policies.
Step 2: Contact Your Loved One’s Financial Professionals
If you don’t find much by going through your loved one’s belongings, the next step is to start contacting any financial professionals they worked with. This may include lawyers, tax accountants, financial advisors, or lenders. These individuals may know if a life insurance policy existed.
Step 3: Check With Your Loved One’s Employer
Many employers offer group life insurance to their employees. Even if your loved one was retired, some people choose to take their life insurance with them when they leave the company. The company’s human resources department can assist you or at least give you the insurance company’s information.
Step 4: Get Assistance From Outside Resources
If the previous steps were unsuccessful, you may want to seek help from independent parties.
- Contact your state’s insurance department. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) website can help you find your state’s insurance office contact information. It’s a good place to start if you haven’t had luck elsewhere. Some states have online locator tools to search for missing life insurance policies as well.
- Use online resources to help your search. Websites such as the NAIC, missingmoney.com, and unclaimed.org allow users to search for unclaimed assets. The death benefit from a life insurance policy is considered an asset.
- Pay a company to search for you. In addition to looking on your own, there are several companies out there who will search for a lost life insurance policy on your behalf. A few popular companies are MIB and Policy Inspector. They will typically contact hundreds of life insurance companies to find out if your loved one had a policy. Each company has different limitations and rates, so choose wisely. Be aware that there are scammers out there who will say they want to help you find unclaimed money for an up-front payment and then are never heard from again. Do your research before hiring a company.
Not sure how do make a life insurance claim? Read our guide for the answers: Life Insurance Claim Process: How to File & How Payouts Work
See what you’d pay for life insurance
Life Insurance Policy FAQs
Will the insurance company reach out to me if I’m a beneficiary?
In most cases, no. Insurance companies don’t automatically know when their clients die. It’s up to the policy beneficiary to reach out to the insurance company to file a claim when someone dies.
What information do I need to make a claim?
To make a claim, you need the following documentation:
- Deceased’s full name
- Social Security Number (SSN)
- Death certificate
- Proof of your relation and/or identity
To start the process, simply contact the life insurance company that issued the policy and they’ll provide you with instructions.
What happens to the death benefits if no one claims the money?
If life insurance policy death benefits are not claimed after a few years, the insurer turns the funds over to the state government. Even then, beneficiaries can still file a claim for the money through the state’s unclaimed property program.
Who is allowed to request life insurance information?
Life insurance companies are very strict about privacy. You cannot just call in asking about people’s insurance policies, even if you’re related to the person.
Insurance companies will typically only release information to:
- Next of kin (e.g., deceased spouse or child)
- Any designated beneficiary on the policy
- Estate executors and trustees
It’s unfortunate how many life insurance benefits go unclaimed. Although life insurance isn’t exactly a fun topic of conversation, it’s an extremely important one.
If you have life insurance, talk to your family about it.