Life insurance policyholders may fail to inform the beneficiary(ies) of a policy's existence. In life insurance, the beneficiary is the person or entity entitled to receive the policy proceeds upon the death of insured. Because some beneficiaries are not aware of their entitlement to the death benefit proceeds, they may fail to claim them. Insurance companies would like to distribute what is rightfully due, but they are bound to identify and pay the proper beneficiaries under the policies that they issue and they may only do so when claims are made.
Today, consumers have several options available to them when searching for life insurance policies for deceased family members, including: searches provided by state treasurer and national unclaimed property searches; insurance company Lost Policy Finders; state insurance department Policy Locators; and private, fee-based services (for instance, MIB's Policy Locator Service).
Check the decedent's personal papers and address books looking for listings of insurance agents, lawyers, estate planners, and financial advisors.
Check safety deposit boxes for an insurance policy or related papers.
Check with any current or former employers for group life coverage or other life insurance policies purchased through work. Check with a spouse’s current or former employer to determine whether spousal coverage may apply.
Check the decedent’s bank accounts/cancelled checks for premium payments or policy loan interest payments to an insurance company.
Review the decedent’s income tax returns for any distributions from life insurance companies that have de-mutualized.
Check the decedent’s mail for at least one year following his or her passing for any premium notices, dividend notices, policy status notices and statements that are mailed generally around policy anniversaries or tax time.
Check with any fraternal organizations, associations, professional membership groups, unions and other such entities to which the decedent belonged that may make life insurance available to their members.
Check with the decedent’s homeowner’s and auto insurance agent to see if they also may have sold life insurance to the decedent.
Careful searching may provide vital clues like company names or former states of residence which may be helpful when selecting free or paid services to continue your search. If your research turns up evidence of a life insurance policy, it is best to check directly with the insurer’s claims or customer service departments. Even if a policy has lapsed, benefits may still be payable under a whole life insurance policy’s non-forfeiture provision.