Estimates are $2.4 billion dollars in death benefits owed beneficiaries and heirs of deceased policyholders goes unclaimed each year, because it is the job of beneficiaries to notify the life insurance company of a policy owner's death. Family members often aren't aware a policy exists, or don't know how to track it down. And missing heirs can be difficult to find, due to name changes after marriage or divorce, an unreported change of address or expired postal forwarding order after a move, and incomplete or illegible records.
► Policyholders may also be entitled to an unexpected windfall. As a growing number of mutual life insurance companies - including MetLife, John Hancock, Prudential and others - have converted to stock ownership, millions of current and former policyholders and heirs are entitled to receive stock and cash, in addition to policy benefits. By law, unclaimed policy benefits and demutualization compensation are held in trust until claimants come forward.
► Heirs of deceased policyholders may also be entitled to receive restitution arising from a legal settlement after a recent audit of 21 major life insurance companies - including MetLife, Prudential & John Hancock - found insurers failed to pay death benefits to beneficiaries even in cases where they knew the policy holder was deceased.
► Even if your insurance company no longer exists, payments of up to $300,000 are possible from state insurance guaranty associations. If you have reason to believe a life insurance policy exists but have not received payment, complete the form below to initiate a search.