Shopping for life insurance policies after someone dies is an unpleasant and sometimes difficult task. Whether you’re sure there is a policy or just suspect there might be one, there are numerous ways to locate a life insurance policy.
By following up with the decedent’s employer, other family members, or even the state, you should be able to find a life insurance policy after death.
Over the last decade, states have implemented laws and policies that make it easier for beneficiaries to locate missing policies and collect money. Some states require life insurance companies to forfeit policy proceeds to the state division of unclaimed property if beneficiaries are not found. there are several sources that will know how to find out if there is a life insurance policy and will help you.
tips for finding a life insurance policy
Here, we’ll describe how you can find someone’s life insurance policy after they’ve passed away.
search documents and personal contacts
Knowing the name of the insurance company will point you in the right direction. if you don’t have that information, there are ways to track it down.
Your first step should be to review your relative’s canceled checks or go to the person’s bank and request copies of old checks. look for checks payable to life insurance companies or automatic payments drawn from your bank account. You can also review recent income tax returns for taxable dividends or withdrawals.
You can also check with your loved one’s attorney or accountant to see if that person can trace the insurance policy or insurance company in their records.
check employer and group policies
many people get life insurance through an employer. check with the benefits coordinator of the decedent’s previous employer to see if they purchased group life insurance from the company.
You should also contact the decedent’s associations, unions, and professional organizations. those groups also often provide life insurance for members.
check with the medical information office
call the medical information office (mib). mib maintains a database that shows if insurers have requested your family member’s medical information. there is a policy locator service that searches the past 20 years and locates applications for a fee.
The only people who can use mib are a representative of the estate, a surviving spouse, a child when there is no spouse, or the next of kin living if there is no representative of the estate, spouse, or child.
contact insurance companies
You can contact insurance companies directly to find policies. Some insurers offer lost policy finders on their websites.
If you search and provide basic information, the insurance company will contact you with the information if you were named a beneficiary of the policy. The insurance company will also contact you if you’re not a beneficiary, but privacy laws restrict what the insurance company can tell you about the policy.
check with status
some states will help you find lost policies. Like searching an insurer’s site, a state will ask for basic information to verify the policy. you may need to include the date of birth, date of death, last known address, and a copy of the death certificate.
states that will help you with your search include:
- new york
the state can only search for policies issued there. if the deceased person previously lived in another state, you should check there as well.
If the person died more than a year ago, another option is to check with the state division of unclaimed property. life insurance companies lose life insurance proceeds to a state’s unclaimed property division if they can’t contact the beneficiary.
A good place to start finding unclaimed money is the National Association of Unclaimed Property Managers, which provides links to unclaimed property divisions in each state.
If the insurance company was not notified of the death and was still waiting for payment, they may have canceled due to late payments. keep that in mind while looking for the policy.
no expiration of expired policy
Policies include no lapse options for lapsed policies, and that can ensure you’ll be able to collect even if the policyholder’s death causes the policy to lapse.
If the policy expires due to the death of the insured, the beneficiary will collect the entire death benefit. there is no time limit for collecting a death benefit. the only requirement is that the death certificate be presented to the life insurance company to verify the death of the insured. if the beneficiary never shows up, then no one gets the money.
Tracking down a lost life insurance policy can be a hassle, so it’s important to let your loved ones know about any policy.