Every year, hundreds of millions of dollars go to waste from unclaimed life insurance policies. In fact, there are no reliable statistics, but it is estimated that billions of dollars in lost insurance policies are just waiting for the beneficiaries to show up. But what exactly happens to the money which was supposed to go to the beneficiaries but instead just goes unclaimed?
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In order to find missing life insurance policies, it will be important to understand just what they are and what is needed to file the proper claim.
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What is An Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy?
Basically, this is a life insurance policy in which the insurance company cannot find the beneficiary. When the insurance company has been notified that a policyholder has passed away, they must contact the beneficiary.
However, with many insurance companies, the policies put into place in finding the beneficiary are not always carried out to their fullest extent. In fact, so bad have certain insurance companies such as MetLife and Prudential in trying to contact beneficiaries that they have actually signed agreements with state authorities, including paying penalties to do a better job of tracking them down.
If after a certain period of time the beneficiary cannot be found, the unclaimed money will then go to the state. However, the money can still claimed even if many years have passed from the state if the proper applications are made.
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How to Search for A Lost Policy? [Free & Paid]
For those who believe that they are beneficiaries of unclaimed life insurance benefits, there are steps you can take that will help discover and claim what you are owed.
Check Files: If you are going through the papers of someone who has passed away, you’ll want to look for any letters or communication with a life insurance company. In addition, you will want to look for any checks written to an insurance company, even if they are old. Even forgotten life insurance policies are usually still in force decades after the policyholder has passed away as long as all the premiums have been paid.
Check Mail: If the payments were still being made on the policy itself, there should be bills in the mail. You’ll either receive a premium payment bill or if the premiums have all been paid, a statement on the value of the missing policy itself.
Tax Returns: Some may have paid interest for a lost policy, of which you’ll find evidence in their tax files.
Check Work, Unions, and other Employers: Quite often, in searching for an unclaimed life insurance policy, one might be offered by the place where they worked. You should start your search by calling the company and asking if a policy exists. If the company has merged or is challenging to find, ask the state insurance department, as they can provide some assistance.
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You may have to use a policy locator service to find an unclaimed life policy, which usually costs a fee. If it has been a year or more since the policyholder died, then you should go to the state agency in charge of unclaimed property. They are the ones to call for a lost life insurance policy as they hold the benefits after a year or more. You may also find a missing life insurance database available online that you can access and see if your relative has such a policy.
What If the Policy Has Lapsed?
Suppose your unclaimed policyholder search has revealed that the policy has lapsed due to non-payment of premiums. In that case, you will need to contact the insurance company to see what can be done to rectify the situation, if any.
If the policy has only recently lapsed within the past month or so, then it may be possible to pay the premiums and claim the benefits depending on the rules and regulations that the life insurance company has in place. However, suppose the policy has lapsed for an extended period, and the company received no death notification. In that case, the policy may be no longer in force, and thus no benefits are available.
It will naturally depend on the relation between the last payment on the policy and the day that the policyholder passed away. The insurance company not being informed of the policyholder’s death can happen, mainly if the death occurred in another state.
How to Claim A Missing Life Insurance Policy?
If you discover in your search that you are the beneficiary of a misplaced life insurance policy, you can claim the money if you follow the proper steps.
Policy Number: You must have the correct policy number to show that this applies to you. Even a long-lost life insurance policy will have the number and basic information needed to make a claim.
Provide Identification: If the insurance company still holds the policy or it now belongs to the state, you will simply need to present yourself with the proper identification to prove that you are the beneficiary. While each company and state agency has particular requirements, in most cases, you will need one or two forms of identification, such as your driver’s license and birth certificate or other forms of recognized ID.
In addition, you may need to show proof of your relationship to claim the benefits. This is especially true if you have a common name, so there is no basis for fraud. A birth certificate helps as your parents’ names will also be listed. The insurance company or the state will have the exact guidelines when it comes to the proper identification of unclaimed life insurance benefits.
With so many unclaimed life insurance policies, it does pay to check if a loved one passes away to see if you are the beneficiary of such a policy.