I received quite a few calls from people who just experienced a family member passing away. Unfortunately, they had no idea where the deceased kept their life insurance policy and other legal papers.
Years ago, this would have been a nightmare, but thanks to our modern technology and a computer, you may be able to find the lost policy in a minimal amount of time.
Unfortunately, the policy will sometimes not turn up, and the search can go on for an indefinite amount of time. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to find a lost or misplaced policy, so you must polish up your detective skills and read this blog post carefully. However, you should get results if you follow my tips below.
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To obtain any information from third-party sources, you must be a beneficiary of the policy, an immediate family member, or a legal executor of the deceased’s estate. Without authority, the ball will stop rolling due to privacy issues. However, at this point, even the dead still maintain a legal right to privacy.
Hopefully, you may know the name of the life insurance company or the state where the policy was issued. Unfortunately, finding a lost policy can sometimes be very time-consuming.
What makes it worse is that you need the life insurance payout to pay for the funeral home’s burial fees which can be very expensive.
Family members often assume that a deceased relative has purchased life insurance when a life insurance policy does not exist.
If you are confident that there is a policy in force but can’t locate it, work with this checklist and let the investigation begin. Who knows, you might get lucky, and it turns up within a few minutes of your time.
1. Local Banks:
First, check with the bank(s) your family member used for a possible safety deposit box. This is one of the best and most common places to keep life insurance policies and various legal documents.
2. Family Lawyer:
Often, a family member will have a lawyer that they use for real estate transactions or creating a will. This lawyer may be able to tell you everything you need to know or at least give you some basic information to work with.
Hopefully, you know or can find out which accountant your relative used for income tax preparation. In addition, this accountant may have already discussed life insurance-related questions, which could shed a lot of light on where the policy may be.
4. U.S. Mail:
Often there will be plenty of old letters that were saved from the insurance company in question for billing purposes that contained original or updated policies. For example, if the policy is Whole Life or Universal Life, there would be projections of what the policy was worth with the cash savings feature of the policy.
5. Insurance Agents:
If you can find out which insurance agent your relative was using, you might hit the nail on the head. The insurance agent can help you get a policy copy and file a death claim.
6. Income Tax Returns:
Everyone usually has many old income tax returns stuffed away somewhere. If the policy in question were a whole life or universal life policy, they would have paid interest which should show up on an income tax return.
You can contact your family member’s employer to see if a group life insurance policy is in force. Even if your relative was on a group plan when he retired, he might have taken the policy with him if it had a portable option.
8. Medical Information Bureau:
You can check with the Medical Information Bureau (MIB), which has a database for processed life insurance applications. The name of the life insurance company that your relative applied for will help you locate the missing policy.
9. Filed Documents:
Everyone has one or more filing cabinets or even cardboard boxes where documents are kept. This is one of the best places to start looking. Your policy might be right on top of the stack waiting for you.
10. National Association of Insurance Commissioners:
The N.A.I.C. has a website that may be a big help to you. They have a locator system for purchased life insurance policies that may be the goose that laid the golden egg. Give it a try and you may locate your missing policy.
11. Unclaimed Property Office:
Contact the unclaimed property office for the state that was policy was purchased. If a life insurance company cannot locate the beneficiaries of a life insurance policy, they are required by law to turn the death benefit over to the state the deceased lived in. Therefore, they may be a big help in finding your policy.
12. Veterans Administration:
If your family member is a military veteran, it is possible he has a policy he purchased through the veterans association. Often a policy with a well-known name, such as Prudential, was purchased through the VA.
13. Possible Beneficiaries:
Stop and think about who would be a possible beneficiary of your deceased relative. Once you have a good idea, you can ask them if they know what life insurance company was applied to, and then you can go from there. Sometimes a person will choose a beneficiary that you would not even expect. There is also a good chance there are multiple beneficiaries, not just one or two.
14. Computer Hard Drives:
If your deceased relative owned a computer, you could search the computer for an electronic version of the policy or any mention of the purchase of the policy, such as emails. Many life insurance companies now issue policies electronically and typically, unless requested, do not provide hard copy policies.
*Check if there is an external hard drive, thumb drive, or even an online backup system such as Carbonite, Google Drive, or one of the many others offered today.
After you find the lost life insurance policy, the rest of the job is a piece of cake.
Now comes the easy part of filing a death claim with the life insurance company that issued the policy. The first step is to get a claim form by contacting the life insurance company. Complete the form and include a certified copy of the death certificate.
They can email you the form or send it through the US Mail Service. Most life insurance companies will have your check in the mail no later than two weeks after receiving your claim form.
Trying to locate a lost life insurance policy can be a real headache sometimes. However, working step-by-step off this list should help you find the missing policy without wasting time. Hopefully, your family member is well organized and you should be able to locate it quickly.
Everyone always has their idea of where to put a policy; they often cannot find it themselves unless they use a sound filing system.
All the best,
If you have any questions about life insurance, contact us today and let us help with no cost or obligation. We are brokers and work for our clients, not insurance companies. We will help you get approved for the best policy with the lowest rates. You can also choose a specific time to get all your questions answered.