Life insurers understand the frustrations people feel when they believe a life insurance policy exists but do not have a record of it. Please find below some tips on conducting a search for a lost policy.
Also, check out the resources cited below that provide free missing policy search services and can help you keep track of your important financial records, including My Personal Insurance Log, developed by the ACLI to help consumers keep track of their policies, savings plans and other important personal data.
Even if a missing policy contract is not recovered, it does not necessarily mean that a person who believes they are entitled to benefits will lose out on receiving them. That is because life insurers are going above and beyond the requirements of state laws to link people with their benefits.
Many companies are checking their records against the death records at the Social Security Administration. If they find a policyholder who has passed away had an in-force policy and no claim has been made, they will attempt to locate the policy beneficiary.
Conducting Your Search
If you suspect your loved one had a policy, but cannot locate it, you may want to conduct your own search using the steps provided below, including the free NAIC Life Insurance Policy Locator Service.
As an alternative, MIB, an insurance membership corporation, offers a policy locator service for a fee. For more information about this service, visit MIB's website: www.policylocator.com.
Check your loved one’s paper and electronic records to look for life insurance policies and the names of insurance agents. Contact every insurance company with which they may have had a policy, even if you’re not sure the policy is still in force.
- Check with the employee benefits office at their latest and previous places of employment. Or, check with the union welfare office.
- Check bank statements and canceled checks for the last few years to see if any life insurance premiums have been made.
- Check the mail for one year after death for premium notices, which usually are sent annually. If a policy has been paid up, there will not be any notice of premium payments due. However, the company may still send an annual notice regarding the status of the policy or it may pay or send notice of a dividend.
- Review your loved one’s income tax returns for the past two years. Look for interest income from and interest expenses paid to life insurance companies. Life insurance companies pay interest on accumulations on permanent policies and charge interest on policy loans.
- Check with the state’s unclaimed property office to see if any unclaimed money from life insurance policies may have been turned over to the state. If, after a number of years, an insurance company holding the unclaimed money cannot find the rightful owner, it turns the money over to the state. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators' website (www.naupa.org) includes links to each state's unclaimed property office. For multi-state searches, www.missingmoney.com combines information from most, but not all, state unclaimed property databases.
- Of course, you may wish to contact life insurance companies directly to see if a policy exists. Each state insurance department has a listing of life insurance companies licensed to do business in its state.
Contacting the Company That Services Your Life Insurance Policy
If you are the owner or beneficiary of a life insurance policy written long ago, you may need help locating the life insurer that services and pays claims on the policy.
Over the years, a policy owner may lose touch with the life insurer due to frequent moves, or the company that issued the policy may have changed its name or merged with another company.
Two sources of information can assist you in finding the life insurance company that currently services your policy:
- State insurance department. The state insurance department of the state in which the insured person resided at the time he or she bought the insurance policy.
- Best's Insurance Reports. This annual update lists insurance company names and addresses, as well as insurers' name changes, mergers and other changes. Reports are available in the reference section of many larger libraries.
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: Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Oregon.
State insurance department directory. The State Insurance Department Directory, with contact information for 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Includes names and phone numbers for key personnel and specific subject contacts.