Finding a Lost Life Insurance Policy - Easy Steps and Resources

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Find Out If You Are Entitled to Unclaimed Money: Lost Life Insurance

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Did Someone Leave You Money In a Lost Life Insurance Policy?. Hero Images/Getty Images

Over a Billion Dollars in Unclaimed Life Benefits, How Do You Claim Your Share?

According to a Consumer Reports study, there are over 1 Billion Dollars in benefits from life insurance policies that have been unclaimed as of 2013, the number is surely rising and begs the question, how do you know if you are a named beneficiary entitled to a death benefit and how do you find out?

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 simply because a person forgot about a smaller policy because 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, it is estimated that 1 in 600 people are entitled to an unclaimed benefit.

Tips to Find a Lost Life Insurance Policy 

There are many cases where people can not find the 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.

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

These 5 steps will help you find out how to search for a life insurance policy and make a claim if you're entitled to money. Just because a person didn't tell you they had a life insurance policy, doesn't mean there is not one, and you should try your best to find it as soon as possible so that any assets in the policy do not get used up in paying premiums. 

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 policy holder has passed away. This is especially important with life insurance policies that provide values, like indexed universal life insurance policies. Time is important, so lets get started.

Answers to Questions About Lost Life Insurance Policies

The following pages will help you get answers to these frequently asked questions:

  • What happens to the death benefit if no one claims the money?

  • Where to look for information about a life insurance policy when someone close to you dies

  • How to search for a lost life insurance policy

  • What to do if youdon't know who the life insurance policy was with. Find the insurance company and make a claim

  • What information will you need to make a claim

  • Who can get information about a lost life policy

  • How to Find Out If You Are You Listed as a Beneficiary on a Life Policy

​A Free Website To Find Unclaimed Death Benefits and Other Assets

Keep reading on our next slide to find out about an online search you can do in a few minutes for free to find your missing money, or if someone close to you might have had a life policy that you didn't know about.

If you were listed as a beneficiary on a life policy and didn't know about it you definitely want to find out. Here's how...

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A Quick Free Web Search to Find Out About Unclaimed Life Insurance

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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

An easy way to check is to look on a site like Missing Money where searches and claims are free. According to Missing Money, they provide searches for a variety of unclaimed assets by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). 

Search for Unclaimed Life Policy Benefits and Money

The online search provides 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.

What if the information doesn't show up in the search? Up next: frequently asked questions about finding and claiming lost life insurance policies...

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Frequently Asked Questions About Finding Lost Life Insurance Policies

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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. 

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

You might be searching to find out if someone close to you who recently passed away had a life policy. Over the term of ones life, a person might buy more than one life insurance policy, so if you aren't sure, there are definitely some places you should check to find clues as to whether or not there may be a life insurance policy that you either forgot about, or maybe never knew about at all. 

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

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners can help you. Just contact your state insurance commissioner's office for the state the policy was and they can help you, or read more about how to start the process to find out which insurance company issued a life insurance policy for your loved one in your state.

Are You Listed as a Beneficiary on a Life Policy?

In order for someone to put you as a beneficiary on a life 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. There have been many examples of cases 

Keep reading for 5 places to check to find out if you are eligible to collect on a policy that has an unclaimed death benefit.

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

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How to find a lost life insurance policy when you're not sure where to start. Caiaimage/paul viant/GettyImages

5 Places  to Look: Finding Out About an Unclaimed Life Policy

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. 

Check These 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 cancelled 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 it 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 benefit, make sure and find out about this as well.
  4. Check the mail to see if you receive 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 agents, group memberships, accident policies, health insurance, etc. 

If none of this works, don't forget about the free online search! Next, let's review who can make a claim on a lost life insurance policy. Are you eligible?

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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 a Loved One'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.

You have nothing to lose by either doing a free search for the deceased's life policy in the unclaimed policy database, or search for your own name to see if someone is looking for you to pay out a benefit. 

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. 

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 in 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 policy holder, provide them with the information they are requesting. Every life insurance company is different, you have to contact them to start the process.

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

Keep reading and we will help you figure that out on the next slide

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

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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 for your loved one if you know they had a life insurance, but have no idea how to find it or access 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 held 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: AlabamaCaliforniaKansasLouisianaMissouriNorth CarolinaNew Hampshire,New YorkOhio, Oklahoma, OregonTexas, Vermont.