How to find a lost life insurance policy
It's not unusual to get rid of tabs on life insurance. After all, Americans currently have a lot more than 290 million policies in effect, making life insurance more plentiful even compared to 270 million registered vehicles on our roads.
Unlike our cars, though, life insurance coverage could be understandably forgotten when you consider that some people possess a policy in effect for 10, 20 or perhaps 3 decades. After many years of raising children, real estate, along with other major milestones, the paperwork or login info can get lost within the shuffle of life.
Because the insured is often the person make payment on premium, it can leave many beneficiaries unaware of coverage or in a scenario where they do not know where to collect the proceeds of a life insurance policy (also known as a death benefit.)
And even though most insurers have systems in place to help locate beneficiaries whenever a policyholder dies, there are a few simple ideas to keep in mind should you need to find a lost life insurance coverage.
Where to consider a lost policy
If there is a policy in effect, then your policyholder has been paying premiums, to manage to find records of these transactions in bank statements, whether they're online or printed. This really is one of the most effective to find a policy.
Search monthly transactions for any clues about which insurance provider to contact. For instance, customers using the Haven Term policy, issued by MassMutual, may have the draft using their bank account come up as “MASSMUTUAL/HAVEN INSPREMIUM-” on a monthly basis.
If search results don't turn up any information about what insurance company to make contact with, you need to still go through transactions line by line to be certain you aren't overlooking something. When the policyholder paid the premiums annually, you may need to go through a couple year's worth of transactions to see when the payment occurred.
Once you find the life span insurance company's name, you can get in touch with its customer service or claims department. Even if you posess zero policy number, make sure to possess the policyholder's Social Security number and other identifying information, such as date of birth, address, and make contact with number. To streamline the process, the beneficiary should be the one to file the claim.
Check with financial advisors, lawyers, and employers
What if the policyholder recently changed banks and hadn't made a premium payment since opening the new account? In that case, bank statements may not help and you might need to dig a little deeper.
Check with the policyholder's employer to ascertain if he or she had life insurance coverage included being an employment benefit. The premiums for employer-provided coverage might be included included in company benefits or billed through payroll deduction, which may explain why bank records didn't include transactions for premiums.
Additionally, it's possible the policyholder sought advice from the financial planner or life insurance agent before buying coverage — this is especially the situation if it's a whole life policy. Unlike term life, that provides coverage for a specific time period, an entire life policy offers coverage for as long as the policyholder lives, also it usually includes a cash value component that frequently involves monitoring and management from a professional. As a result, the policyholder might have caused a financial advisor or lawyer to manage their assets.
Wait for the insurance provider to contact the beneficiary
Even if you can find no record of the life insurance coverage in personal financial records, you may still find several factors employed in your favor. One of these may be the insurance company itself. When insurance companies find out about the death of the policyholder (through third-party scanning services that are in position), they have measures in starting point trying to find the policy's beneficiary. (Our parent company, MassMutual, does.)
Not only could it be the right thing to complete, but there's also a financial incentive for insurance companies to pay for the beneficiary the death benefit as quickly as possible. This is because varying state rates of interest accrue the longer the claim remains unpaid.
Contacting state resources
Even by having an insurance company’s efforts, it's not always possible to find a beneficiary. In such cases, the insurance company transfers the payout towards the state where the policy was issued. Normally, the cash goes to the state's office of unclaimed property.
You can find and check your state's database of unclaimed property here. The nation's Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) also provides a lost policy service. It might take a few months for unclaimed property databases to show results, making this a choice that's best if it's been some time since the policyholder passed away.
The insurance industry also monitors policies through the Medical Information Bureau, or MIB. The bureau offers online tools to track down a lost policy if it is medically underwritten, the type many term and permanent life insurance coverage buyers have.
Ways to prevent losing tabs on a policy
There are few times in everyday life which are more heartbreaking or stressful compared to death of the loved one. If you have life insurance coverage, or maybe you're shopping for a policy, there are lots of steps you can take how to help ensure it's smooth sailing for your beneficiary if anything ever became of you.
Have a conversation
Start by speaking with your family about your coverage so they'll understand what insurance company you've selected and the way to file a claim. Life insurance touches on topics like finances and death which are sensitive for many people, so it's simple to delay such discussions. But it is also an important conversation because it could make it easier for your beneficiary to file claims should you died unexpectedly as well as your loved one needed the coverage as soon as possible.
As with any other important financial documents and logins, you need to keep life insurance coverage and company information inside a central, secure and arranged location for your lover or beneficiaries.
Some prefer the pen-and-paper approach by recording account numbers and storing policy documents within an office folder for safekeeping. Others use digital folders to keep and store up-to-date passwords and policy forms.
Your preferred method isn't as essential as simply ensuring you've some sort of organized way for all your family members to easily access accounts and assets if you were to die suddenly. And, remember to improve your information at least every year.
Make your plans known
Creating a full time income will or perhaps an estate plan's a different way to help guide your survivors to locating your assets as efficiently as possible. For those who have a partner, children or assets you intend to leave to a friend or family member, then it's vital that you possess a living will. Get in touch with a lawyer which specializes in estate planning to start this process.
These documents address important affairs whenever you die and specify who are able to make financial and medical decisions for you for anyone who is unable to make them on your own. Typically, you do not want to rely on the laws of your house state to make these decisions for you.
Most insurance providers have processes in place to help
A death within the immediate family creates a chaotic environment, particularly if the death was unexpected. What exactly would happen if, despite your best intentions, your beneficiary forgot about your policy and didn't file claims? Is the insurance company just keep your money?
Most insurers are proactive about finding life insurance coverage beneficiaries and starting the claims process even for people who did not know their deceased loved one were built with a life insurance coverage in effect.
Life insurance offers reasons to worry less
Life insurance policies are popular because of the peace of mind they offer the insured. With dependable coverage in position, you can stop worrying about how exactly your loved ones would survive financially if the unthinkable happened and also you died way too soon. Instead, you know you've done what you can to help financially protect your loved ones even during challenging times.
So for those who have coverage in force, or if you're shopping for coverage, tell your beneficiary. Write down your policy information. Hopefully they'll never need to apply your coverage, but at least both of you possess the peace of mind in knowing it's there.
If you've lost a relative who had a life insurance coverage in force, know that you will find systems and resources in place that will help you locate a policy or for the insurer to help.