Very often, I speak with families who are unsure whether their deceased loved one left any life insurance policies behind. Sometimes they will find an old policy (but they do not know if it has lapsed), or maybe they just do not know if one exists. In 2013, a billion dollars of life insurance benefits have gone unclaimed. So how are you supposed to know if your loved one left an unknown policy?
If you know the name of the insurance company, many times you can call and ask if a policy exists. You will need the name, date of birth and social security number for the decedent (at the very least). If there is a policy, and you are the beneficiary, the insurance company will talk to you. If you are not the beneficiary, they will not tell you anything beyond acknowledging that a policy does or does not exist. [pullquote_right] In 2013, a billion dollars of life insurance benefits have gone unclaimed.[/pullquote_right]
What if you do not know the name of the insurance company? Your only options are to contact the state you are in regarding abandoned property (in Florida that is https://www.fltreasurehunt.org/ or if you are in another state, check out the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators – http://unclaimed.org/) or you could try using a policy locator service such as www.MIBGroup.com. MIB Group charges $75 per search to determine whether a decedent ever applied for life insurance, and if so, where the application was made (however, you may want to check out reviews for this service before using them – I found some reviews that suggested it was not worth the money spent).
Unfortunately, insurance companies are not required to find beneficiaries of unclaimed policies. States do require the companies to turn over unclaimed funds after a certain number of years (typically after five years, but it can be longer).