It’s estimated that $1 billion in benefits from forgotten and lost life insurance policies are sitting unclaimed in America, says Consumer Reports. Could you be among the estimated 1 in 600 people who may be the beneficiary of an unclaimed life insurance policy?
If so, there are ways to find out. Here are some tips to help.
5 Ways to Locate a Lost Life Insurance Policy
- Comb the house. Sometimes the thing we’re missing is right under our nose. First, go through any files or safe deposit boxes where the lost life insurance policy may be before launching a full-fledged investigation.
- Think back to the beginning. Which insurance agent may have sold it? Which insurance company may have issued it? What was the name and Social Security number of the person who bought it? Was the policy a term or permanent life policy? Any information you can remember will help the insurance agent and/or customer representative you contact.Related: What’s the Difference Between Term and Whole Life Insurance?You might also have to contact any attorneys, financial advisers, accountants or other advisers who might have had something to do with issuing the policy. Also consider contacting the deceased individual’s former employer. Many times the policies are group policies that were originally taken out through an employer. If the policyholder passed away relatively recently and you have the authority or permission, take a look at the deceased person’s bank statements for premium payments or policy-related material.
- Contact your state’s insurance department. Generally, an insurance company that is unable to locate a policy’s beneficiary is required to turn over the benefits to the state’s unclaimed property office after a certain number of years have passed. Think about the state in which the policy could have been issued. Then visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website to learn how to contact your state insurance department.
- Look it up online. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a free website that makes it easy to search a number of life insurance and annuity companies at once. You can run a search if you’re the executor or legal representative of a deceased person, or if you have reason to believe you’re a beneficiary. Submit a request or read the FAQ at the Life Insurance Policy Locator Service website. You can also check in with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, which operates the website MissingMoney.com.
- Watch out for scammers. There are life insurance scams out there whereby an “insurer” promises to reunite you with unclaimed funds. Don’t immediately respond to someone claiming to be the representative of an insurance company. Instead, call that insurance company’s claims number to see if the offer is legit.
How to prevent a lost life insurance policy in the first place
Life insurance is a powerful agent of relief. Taking care of the future needs of your loved ones makes you feel capable, purposeful and satisfied.
Spare yourself and your beneficiaries from the hassle caused by a lost life insurance policy by following this advice:
- Clearly name your beneficiaries on the policy.
- Let your beneficiaries know about the policy. Also tell them the name of the insurance agent and company that issued the policy.
- Keep your insurance documents in a safe, logical place like a fireproof safe or bank safe. Not sure what kind of safe to buy? Read our guide to safe storage of important documents.
When you count on ERIE to help plan for the future, we’ll help you consider the variables, lay out the options and make the process comfortable and efficient.
Learn more about our flexible and affordable life insurance* options, or find a local ERIE agent to talk it through in person.
*ERIE life insurance products and services are provided by Erie Family Life Insurance Company, a member of Erie Insurance Group, and are not available in New York.
This story was originally published in 2014. It was updated with new information in 2019.