With moving, getting older and getting better at forgetting things, it's easy to lose a few things. A life insurance policy may be one of them. And if death occurs, relatives, aware that they are beneficiaries, may have to search a bit to find the policy which could be a lost insurance policy. If you do not know if there is insurance and which insurance company to contact, what approaches can you use?
- Speak with anyone aware of the deceased's affairs and finances. Include his lawyer, banker, accountant, and insurance agent. Of course, if he had all these, you would probably not need to find a lost insurance policy (look through the telephone/address book of the deceased as the insurance agent may be listed).
- You might try his past employers in case he had some group life insurance or supplemental life insurance through work.
- Check all cancelled checks of his made out to an insurance company. Contact his bank for copies of old checks.
- Check as much of his past mail as you can find. You are looking for insurance premium bills and policy-status notices. These are sent out by insurance companies annually, and when payments are due. This will be your best bint to locating a lost insurance policy
- Examine his tax returns. Here, you are looking for potential deductions (schedule A) for health or long term care premiums which may lead you back to the same company or the agent that provided the lost life insurance coverage.
- Contact the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) in case the deceased had recently tried to buy life insurance. It maintains a database about requests on medical information within the past seven years. Do a search on the MIB Policy Locator Service.
The Reverse Situation: Insurance Company Cannot Find Beneficiary
If a company knows an insured died and it cannot find the beneficiary, it must turn the full death benefit over to the state comptroller's department within three to five years of the insured's death. Interestingly, the insurance company is under no obligation to consult death records to find if any of their insured's have died.
The money from the policy death benefit is considered "unclaimed property" and gets lumped in with dormant bank accounts and uncollected rent deposits. The comptroller's department maintains a database that lists the names and addresses of lost beneficiaries.