Easy Steps (and Resources) to Find a Lost Life Insurance Policy

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, since 2016, consumers have found 46,665 matches to lost life insurance policies which have enabled them to locate and claim more than $650 million in life insurance benefits. How do you know if you are a named beneficiary entitled to a death benefit and how do you find out? There are several ways to find a lost life insurance policy.

You May Be the Beneficiary on a Life Insurance Policy and Not Know About It

You learn a lot about a person after they die and you might be surprised to find out how many people are entitled to death benefits and never had any idea. It can happen because a person just wanted to leave you a gift, but never wanted to let you know, or it can be because a person forgot about a smaller policy when they changed their primary life insurance policy. They may have even forgotten you were listed as a beneficiary. 

In some cases, a person may have taken out a life insurance policy and had no one close to list as a beneficiary, and chose you. Stories surface all the time, where people had no idea a person named them as beneficiary, and suddenly find out they have money coming to them. There are many reasons for life insurance policies to go unclaimed.

5 Steps to Uncover Secret Life Insurance Policies or a Lost Policy

These five steps will help you find out how to search for a life insurance policy and make a claim if you're entitled to the money. Just because a person didn't tell you they had a life insurance policy, doesn't mean there is not one. When a life insurance policy has cash value, in some cases if a premium goes unpaid the policy may use the value to pay the premiums until the value runs out. The concept is to keep the policy in force, but this can be a real problem if the insured has passed away and the value of the policy is being used up when there should have been a payout of death benefit instead. 

You should try your best to find a life insurance policy as soon as possible so that any assets or cash values in the policy do not get used up in paying premiums.

Tips to Find a Lost Life Insurance Policy 

There are many cases where people cannot find insurance documents that have been lost over time. When you lose someone close to you it is often overwhelming and finding documents can be difficult. These tips will help you figure out how to find a lost life insurance policy, or how to find out if you're entitled to a death benefit that you didn't know about.

There are many different types of life insurance policies or death benefits. Employer programs may offer them as part of health insurance benefits too. There are cases where a life insurance company is not aware that the policyholder has passed away.  This is especially important with life insurance policies that provide values, like indexed universal life insurance policies. Time is important, so let's get started.

Free Web Searches to Find Out About Unclaimed Life Insurance

Family Playing Cards
Someone may have left you money in an unclaimed life insurance policy. Hero Images / Getty Images

Where to Find Information About Lost Life Insurance Policies 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a free online tool that has served over 145,000 requests from consumers with their online search Life Insurance Policy Locator.

How to Search to See If You Are Entitled to Money From an Unclaimed Life Policy

Another way to check is to look on a site like Missing Money where searches and claims are free. You can also conduct a search for free for unclaimed assets with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) who cite that 1 in 10 people have unclaimed property.. 

Searching For Life Insurance Purchased in Canada

If you think that a person may have purchased their life insurance out of the country, like in Canada, check the Canadian Ombudservice for Life and Health Insurance

Search for Unclaimed Life Policy Benefits and Money

Online searches provide information about insurance policy benefits that have not been paid, dividends and investments (which may come into play with whole life policies or universal life policies) or annuities, trust funds and other property and assets like bank accounts and more.

Beware of Insurance Scams and Fraud

We've listed several free sites and resources you can use to find a lost life insurance policy. If you decide to use the help of an agency or another person to help you find life insurance for a fee, be sure and check their credentials. If a person says they work for a state department and will help you for a fee, call the state department first to see if the situation is legitimate.

Frequently Asked Questions About Finding Lost Life Insurance Policies

father and child on a beach at sunset
People purchase life insurance to leave a legacy behind. Sam Spicer / Getty Images

What Happens to the Death Benefit If No One Claims the Money?

An insurance company will turn over any unclaimed death benefits to the state's unclaimed property office. 

Know There Was a Life Policy, But Don't Know Which Life Insurance Company the Policy Was With? 

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners can help you. Contact your state insurance commissioner's office in the state the policy was issued in.

Are You Listed as a Beneficiary on a Life Policy?

In order for someone to put you as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, you do not need to give your consent. This means that you may be named as a beneficiary on a policy and have no idea. 

5 Places to Look for Money You Might Be Entitled to Following a Death

Woman looking through papers with dog
How to find a lost life insurance policy when you're not sure where to start. Caiaimage/paul viant/GettyImages

If the person who passed away was very close to you or a member of your household, you may have access to papers that would help you figure out if there are hidden assets or unclaimed life policies that may list you as a beneficiary.

5 Places to Find Lost Life Insurance Policies

  1. Check the deceased's papers for contracts, business cards of life insurance or other insurance agents, an accountant, or canceled checks or account statements. Find out from their bank if they purchased any special accident or other insurance. You may also want to check safety deposit boxes. 
  2. Check old bank records or account statements for payments to life insurance companies. Even if you do not find the actual policy, contact info or documents such as the name of the life insurance company is a major lead for you to use to get in touch to find out if the policy was still valid, if the life insurance policy had any cash value or associated investments, and start a claims process for a lost policy.
  3. Oftentimes people get complimentary or low-cost life insurance when they belong to member organizations, professional organizations, and through their work. Contact these places to find out if any such policy existed. If the person was retired, they may still have had a health insurance policy or other benefits..
  4. Check the mail to see if you received any documents from investment or life insurance companies. If you don't know about a policy, then there's a good chance the company doesn't know the person passed away and may still be using their assets to pay premiums depleting the death benefit. Also check credit card company statements that come in the mail or any other financial documents for any insurance that may have been purchased.
  5. Check their email account for messages to or from an insurance agent, group memberships, accident policies, health insurance, etc. 

Who Can Claim for a Lost Life Insurance Policy?

How to choose your life insurance beneficiary
Understanding how to choose your life insurance beneficiary designation. stacy vitallo / GettyImages

Are You Entitled to Information About Another Person's Life Insurance?

Privacy is still important even after death, so you might not think you would have the right to inquire about a death benefit if you are not the immediate family member. However, there are circumstances where even if you are not the next of kin you may have the right to information; For example, if you are the beneficiary named on the policy.

Call the Life Insurance Company Claims Phone Number

You can also call the life insurance company claims line if you know who the life insurance company was, and ask to see if you are a beneficiary listed on the policy. Sometimes, even if people lose touch over the years, they may still be listed on a policy, either because they were originally listed as irrevocable beneficiary and couldn't be changed, or because the person who passed away just wanted to leave it as a surprise gift or transfer their wealth to you

What Information Do You Need to Make a Claim for a Lost Life Insurance Policy?

Normally if you are the beneficiary, the executor of the estate or one of the following close family members, like a spouse, domestic partner, children, grandchildren, a sibling or grandparent, you can provide:

  1. Proof of who you are
  2. Copy of a death certificate
  3. The deceased's Social Security number 

Depending on the situation and the policy terms, this may help you get the necessary process started. The insurance company will be able to guide you on how to proceed. 

How to Claim Lost Life Insurance Benefits

Contact the agent who sold the policy, or the insurance company claims department. Advise them of the loss of the policyholder, provide them with the information they are requesting. 

Lost Life Insurance: Find Out Which Insurance Company Issued a Policy

Woman using her cell phone to get information
How to get help when looking for a lost insurance policy. Paul Bradbury/Getty images

Don't Know Which Life Insurance Company Issued the Life Policy?

If you don't know who the current life insurance company is, your state insurance commissioner's office can help you find out which life insurance company issued the policy if you know they had life insurance, but have no idea how to find it. Beware that knowing which state the policy was purchased in and not where the person died is key. You will want to contact the state commissioner from the state of purchase. 

When Life Insurance Company Changes: How to Find the New One

If a life insurance company that holds your policy (or the policy of a deceased loved one) has changed and you no longer know who the life insurance policy is, you can contact your state commissioners office by finding the office in your state, and they will be able to provide you with information and records of the life insurance company's current name, if there have been any mergers of insurance companies, and who to contact to get the information you need about the new life insurance policy, claims or payments.

Additional Links: The following states have specific life insurance search resources: CaliforniaLouisianaMissouriNorth CarolinaNew HampshireOregonTexas.