Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits

ACLI Statement

The life insurance industry is proud of its long history of honoring its obligations to policyholders. In the past ten years alone, insurers have paid more than $600 billion to beneficiaries of life insurance policies.

State insurance departments strictly regulate the life insurance claims payment process. The states also have well-established laws delineating when unclaimed life insurance benefits default to the government.

In a small percentage of cases, life insurance benefits go unclaimed because family members are unaware that they are listed as beneficiaries in existing policies. Life insurers want everyone to receive the benefits to which they are entitled rather than paying unpaid benefits to state governments. That is why the American Council of Life Insurers has advocated since 2012 for state legislatures to adopt a national standard on the issue. Twenty-nine states have enacted laws based on this standard that requires all life insurers to use new technologies to identify policyholders who have died but whose beneficiaries have yet to make a claim. ACLI is urging all states to adopt this standard.

The legislation requires companies to regularly compare their records against the Social Security Administration's Death Master File to quickly connect people to the benefits they are entitled to receive. All life insurers are complying with the law. Most companies are going well beyond what current laws require to identify policyholders who have died, locate beneficiaries of unclaimed life insurance and help them initiate the claims process.

Life insurers also support the implementation in all states of lost policy finder programs. Through these programs, consumers who believe their loved ones may have had a life insurance policy can submit a request to all life insurers doing business in the state to search their records. Programs have been established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and insurance departments in several states.

Letters of Interest

Letter to CBS 60 Minutes. Mary Jo Hudson, special counsel to ACLI, authored a letter to CBS 60 Minutes regarding its segment on unclaimed life insurance benefits.

Letter to CBS 60 Minutes. Representative George Keiser (R-ND), former NCOIL president, sent a letter expressing his disappointment with the reporting in the CBS News 60 Minutes story about unclaimed life insurance benefits.

ACLI Resources

ACLI Unclaimed Property White Paper (Third Edition). Download the third edition of ACLI's "Life Insurance, Unclaimed Property and the Death Master File: Toward a Uniform National Framework" study.

Consumer FAQs. This overview will provide answers to your questions on unclaimed life insurance benefits.

ACLI Support for the NCOIL Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act. Read more about ACLI's support for the NCOIL Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act.

Facts About the U.S. Life Insurance Industry. 90 million American families rely on life insurers' products for financial security. Download our fact sheet and learn more about the life insurance industry.

State Fact Sheets. Find out more about life insurers' presence in your state.

Missing Policy Tips. Examine detailed instructions on locating a missing policy.

State Resources

NAIC Life Insurance Policy Locator Service. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has developed a free National Life Insurance Policy Locator Service to help you search for a life insurance policy or annuity contract of a deceased family member.

In addition to the NAIC Service, the following state insurance departments also provide a free missing policy search service: IllinoisLouisiana, Michigan, New York, North CarolinaOhio, and Oregon.

State insurance department directory. The State Insurance Department Directory, with contact information for 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Includes names and phone numbers for key personnel and specific subject contacts.