Handling your loved ones or a close friend’s estate after losing them is more traumatic than one can imagine. The first step in finding if a life insurance policy exists, is proving that the will left behind is authentic.
After doing so, you need to start your detective work in finding out if there was a life insurance policy in the first place. And if there was, where is it now, and who exactly are the rightful beneficiaries of the life insurance policy?
The best way to avoid this confusion, is to have a talk with loved ones and close friends regarding life insurance and their finances in general, before they unfortunately pass away.
However, this is subjective to how close you’re to that individual as most of the time, it can get uncomfortable.
But, don’t worry, we’ll be walking you through the steps you can take to find out if a loved ones life insurance policy exists, and if you’re indeed the benefactor.
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What is an Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy?
When you ask, “how do I find if a life insurance policy exists?” – it basically means you’re trying to find an unclaimed life insurance policy. Life insurance policy is usually left unclaimed, when a person passes away and the named beneficiary hasn’t claimed the death benefit.
This could be the result of outdated or incomplete beneficiary information, which makes it difficult for the insurance company to reach out to the beneficiary. An unclaimed life insurance policy can also exist, if the insurance company is unaware of the insured person’s death.
In most cases, insurance companies are often informed about the insured individual’s death, when a beneficiary initiates to claim the death benefits.
How to Find an Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy?
After a loved one’s death, there will inevitably be some additional problems on the way while you’re still coping with the grief from your loss, and struggling to sort out the things left behind by the individual.
If the life insurance policy’s death benefits are left unclaimed, it means that the money spent on the insurance policy has gone down the drain. Fortunately, there are several ways in finding out if a life insurance policy existed.
Here are some ways in which you can find a life insurance policy.
Check Old Paperwork
When it comes to life insurance policies, you can expect to find a whole lot of paperwork to search through – especially the older ones. It’s not uncommon for insured individuals to hang on to the physical copy of their life insurance policy.
An insurance policy is a contract between the life insurance company and the person who’s intending to purchase the policy, and it should be safekept by the owner of the life insurance policy
It’s highly likely that insurance companies will send statements, premium notices, and other notices about the company and it’s policy to the insured person. Moreover, when an individual is submitting the application for the policy, they would’ve been provided with the original copy of it, which may be in their old paperwork.
If your loved one passes away fairly recently, you should check their mail for a while, as they may receive policy-related information or be updated on their premium payments.
Check Bank Statements
Every life insurance policy usually had a premium payment charged on it every month, until the insured individual reached the maturity of the insurance policy – around 90 to 120 years of age. This of course depends on the company and the year the insurance policy was issued.
Insured people typically have an automated premium payment that’s either made through their bank or credit card, and this will be displayed in their bank statement. If your loved one did indeed have a life insurance policy, chances are you’ll be able to see it in their most recent bank statement.
Moreover, if you come across money being deducted from their bank account and paid to a life insurance company, more so if it’s done through a written check, you may find an active life insurance policy! You can even go through their previous bank statements to find if there are past premium payments made.
Check Storage Areas
There are people who never throw any form of paperwork away, especially the older ones. So, don’t just rely on paperwork found at their place of office, because they might just have a storage where you may find more answers.
Storage areas such as safety deposit boxes and file cabinets might help you uncover old receipts for previously paid premiums or olde billing notices. In fact, there are life insurance companies who still rely on physical mail to communicate with their insured clients.
You will need to present your loved ones death certificate in order to access their safety deposit boxes or storage cabinets. However, if you’re not the spouse of the deceased individual, you will also need to have an executor’s testament to be able to access their private space.
Moreover, if you are indeed the executor of the individual’s estate, you can also visit the deceased bank to further request for paper statements, only if you have the Power of attorney. This will enable you to find out of whom the deceased paid premiums to, despite not having the access to their bank account/statement.
The “Death Master” File
Insurance companies usually utilize the Social Security Administration’s “Death Master” file, that stores the record of its recipients who passed away. Insurers would counter tally their own records to that of the records in the “Death Master” file.
If the deceased loved one or close friend with an executor testament contact’s this particular department, the state government will go out of their way to assist them. In fact, there’s a “lost policy finder” option initiated by the New York Department of Financial Services.
It allows the executor, or even an immediate family member of the deceased to create a search request to find out whether there’s a lost life insurance policy under the name of the deceased. However, they will need to submit a copy of the deceased death certificate and basic information.
Moreover, you could also reach out to your own state’s comptroller’s Unclaimed Property Office to perhaps assist you in your search. If the insurance company is aware that the insurer has died, and they were unable to locate the beneficiary, the policy’s death benefits are turned over to the state.
Use the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators to find where your state’s comptroller is located.
Use a Policy Locator Service
Now, you’ll need to pay if you decide to use a policy locator service to help you find a lost life insurance policy. The Medical Information Bureau (MIB)/Policy Inspector Service is a form of policy locator service.
You can find information about MIB on their website, and there’s a specific portion of their website, which is dedicated to helping people find lost insurance policies. MIB is a nonprofit member-owned organization.
MIB was created to share applicant information and underwritings to its members all over. Their members comprise life insurance companies. It has now become a large portal as an information sharing system for life insurance companies.
They help insurance companies analyze risk and price life insurance in a much better way. MIB’s lost insurance policy locator is very much effective due to the large number of life insurance companies becoming its members – also because MIB searches through its entire database.
MIB’s database has almost every policy that is being used in the United States. Your chances of finding if a life insurance policy exists is pretty strong if you use MIB. However, it will cost you $75 to use their database.
How Can You Prevent a Lost Life Insurance Policy?
As mentioned earlier on, it’s always best to speak to your loved one, if they’ve opted for a life insurance policy, and perhaps even ask who the benefactor is. But we know it’s easier said than done, due to the discomfort it might bring to the other person.
Even so, you should still tell them to let whoever the benefactor is, know that they’re the beneficiary of their life insurance policy. You should also suggest that they should keep more than one copy of their life insurance policy and record dates of when the policy was last updated.
Even though it was too late for your loved one to provide you with any form of information about their life insurance policy, they might just have offered you one of the best life lessons – to inform you loved ones about your life insurance policy.
Life insurance policies are a sort of nest that provides the decade solved ones with financial stability. So, hunting down for a lost life insurance policy is extremely excruciating and painful.
Hence, if you’re covered by life insurance, please inform your family members that such a policy exists. This will allow them to claim the death benefits. Moreover, also provide your insurance company with as much information as you can be the beneficiary, so that there’s no confusion.
We hope this was an insightful read and you managed to take away key learning points about how to find if a life insurance policy exists!