How to Find a Missing Policy The first and most basic step is to check the deceased papers, including address and telephone books, to look for policy documents and/or the names of insurance agents. It's helpful to go through the deceased's mail for a year or more after death, looking for premium notices which are typically sent annually. If a policy is paid in full there may not be any notice of premiums due, but a statement or dividend payment may have been sent.
Search all financial records, including bank statements and canceled checks, to determine if payments were made to an insurance company, then follow up to see if the policy was redeemed or is still in force. Review the deceased's income tax returns. Look for any interest income that might have been received from a life insurance company, and check for interest expense, in the event a loan against the policy was made. Check with:
Employers: Many companies offer group life policies to workers, which often can be extended after leaving the job. Contact Personnel or Human Resources offices at all places of work.
Financial Services Firms Banks, lenders, and credit card issuers often offer free or low cost life policies to customers, which are typically used to pay off the loans or card balances. Check the deceased's loan documents and other financial paperwork to see if such a policy was in force.
Professional Associations & Clubs Many trade unions and professional associations offer group policy benefits to members. Contact the union welfare office, organization headquarters, or place of employment.
If you are certain a policy existed but have had no luck with any of the above, you should contact underwriters directly. While there are some 2500 underwriters of life insurance, but experts estimate 90% of all polices are written by the 100 largest companies. It may be possible to narrow this number down further by checking with your state insurance commissioner to see if a particular company is licensed to do business in your state.
Contact information for state insurance commissioners is available on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website.
For contact information on the twenty-five largest life insurance companies go to Top Life Insurance Companies
Another good resource is the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. Their website provides contact information for all member agents, which can be searched by state.
The National Insurance Consumer Help Line is a consumer telephone information service sponsored by insurance industry trade associations. Trained personnel and licensed agents are available to answer questions about various insurance issues and assist with problems. Call (800) 942-4242 or Contact:
National Insurance Consumer
The Consumer Federation of America Insurance Group and the American Council of Life Insurers offer a number of resources, but be aware these are trade organizations primarily dedicated to advancing the interests of underwriters.
The Medical Information Bureau maintains an database of medical records used by major underwriters to evaluate risk when someone applies for life insurance. The provide a Record Search service for estate executors and administrators that may reveal the name of an underwriter that accessed the records for a particular insured.
Finally if the insured has been dead for a number of years and/or died at an advanced age, check with the state unclaimed property office in each state where both beneficiaries and the deceased have lived or worked for any length of time.
Life insurance policies typically have long dormancy periods, so unclaimed policy proceeds may not show up right away. Order a search at: Unclaimed.com
Note In addition to policy benefits, beneficiaries and heirs may be entitled to receive stock and cash in exchange for their ownership interest in demutualized life insurance companies, including MetLife, John Hancock, Prudential, MONY, Nationwide and others.
The windfall arising from demutualization can be substantial - often tens of thousands of dollars - but millions of missing policyholders and heirs have not made claims, and efforts to contact them were unsuccessful due to name changes after marriage or divorce, unreported changes of address, expired postal forwarding orders and non-current beneficiary information.