How to Find a Life Insurance Policy When Someone Dies
Losing a loved one can be both emotionally and financially devastating – which is why it is so important to know how to find a life insurance policy when someone dies. Because life insurance proceeds can help survivors to pay final expenses, debt, and ongoing living costs, finding a policy (or policies) can mean the difference between struggling financially or maintaining your current lifestyle.
So, where should you look for life insurance coverage when someone passes away? This post will provide you with the information that you need.
How to Find Out If a Life Insurance Policy Exists
According to LIMRA’s 2018 Insurance Barometer Study, approximately 60% of all people in the United States were covered by some type of life insurance in 2018. This includes both group and individual coverage.
So, before you start looking for a loved one’s life insurance policy, it is important to determine whether or not one actually exists.
There are several places to help find out if there is coverage in force, such as:
- Checking for documents. Many people keep files for important documents, such as insurance policies. So, one of the first places to start is in a file cabinet or other safe place where the insured may have kept his or her records. You may also find a copy of the person’s will, which could list any policies that are owned.
- Looking in the safe deposit box. Many people keep financial and insurance records (as well as other valuable items) in a safe deposit box. In order to access this, though, you need to be listed on the bank’s documents as being an eligible person. You must also have the key to the box.
- Checking bank statements and other records for payments. If the individual was still making premium payments on their life insurance policy, you could check their bank statements to determine whether or not premiums were paid.
- Contacting the person’s financial advisor. The decedent’s financial advisor may also be able to help – especially if coverage was purchased from the advisor as part of an overall financial plan.
- Looking through the income tax returns or contacting the insured’s accountant / CPA. Tax returns may show evidence of interest that was earned on a permanent life policy. If this is the case, it is possible that the individual has coverage.
- Contacting the insured’s attorney. If the individual has an attorney, it is possible that they may have done some estate planning. So, contacting their attorney could provide you with more details regarding whether the individual owned life insurance personally and / or had coverage that is being held in a trust.
- Calling the insured’s employer. If the deceased person was still in the workforce, they may have a policy through their employer’s group benefits plan or their labor union. So, by contacting the employer’s Human Resources department, you can find out whether or not group life insurance exists. The HR department can also help to walk you through the process of filing a claim.
If you find evidence of an individual policy (or more than one policy), the next step is to contact the agent who sold the policy. If he or she is no longer in the insurance business, you can instead contact the carrier directly.
Most life insurance companies provide information and forms directly on their website that can provide you with additional information, and that can get the process of filing a claim started.
Are You the Beneficiary of Someone’s Life Insurance Policy?
Another important step is to determine who is listed as the beneficiary on a loved one’s policy. If you find the actual policy’s paperwork in the decedent’s records, the beneficiary information will be included. Otherwise, contacting the agent or the company can provide you with these details.
In some cases, an individual will pass away with life insurance, but the policy’s beneficiary is not aware that they are listed on the policy. According to a Consumer Reports study, 1 out of every 600 people is the beneficiary of an unclaimed life insurance policy, with an average benefit of $2,000.
In order to find out if you’re the beneficiary on an unclaimed life insurance policy, you can search unclaimed property files such as MissingMoney.com. This database, which is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, allows individuals to search for unclaimed assets that they are entitled to. Unclaimed.org is another service that allows you to find your state’s unclaimed property website.
You could also check with the Life Insurance Policy Locator Service, an affiliated entity of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. In this case, you can submit a request to have companies check their files.
Do You Have Life Insurance Coverage?
If you have loved ones who would struggle financially without you, it is possible that you have purchased coverage, either through a group or individual plan (or both). It could also be that someone else has coverage on you.
While life insurance cannot be purchased on an individual without their knowledge – and without proving an insurable interest on the insured – it may be that on old policy exists that you’ve forgotten about. By following the steps above, such as checking their files, bank statements, and tax returns, you can find out if coverage purchased by someone else exists on you.
Need More Information?
Although many people know that life insurance is an important component of any financial plan, stepping through the policy claims process can be a bit confusing. So, it can help to talk with a life expert.
At Insurance Geek, we know life insurance! We are associated with more than 30 of the top-rated life companies in the industry, and we know which companies and coverage can provide the right benefit for all types of protection needs.
Our “geeks” can answer your questions about coverage, claims to file, and a whole array of other related information. If you’re ready to find out more about life insurance, how it works, and whether or not you may be entitled to benefits, just hit the Call Me button on the bottom right side of the page.