Ways To Find Out If You’re Entitled To Money From Life Insuranceby Pat Steinberg Apr 07, 2022
For the life of you, you can’t remember if a loved one of your took out a life insurance policy – and whether you’re the beneficiary for it.
During the last few years, more than $1 billion in unclaimed life insurance annuities and policies have been uncovered by Americans who didn’t know that such a policy existed, or that they had been named as the recipient. Payouts often go unclaimed as the result of someone dying without mentioning a policy, or someone falling mentally or physically ill before they’re able to convey the relevant information. In some circumstances, beneficiaries are unaware that the policyholder has died.
Information provided by Consumer Reports in 2013 estimated that the odds of having a lost life insurance policy payout in which you were named were about 1 in 600. At that time, the average payout totaled $2,000, but some payouts reached $300,000 – a sum that no one would want to overlook.
Follow The Money Trail…
Check out several easy-to-access online tools when searching for a possible life insurance policy payout. MissingMoney.com provides a major database of many different kinds of unclaimed property.
Additionally, the following tools can help you locate missing policy payouts you could be entitled to.
Veterans Affairs Unclaimed Funds Search
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a searchable online database that tracks unclaimed death awards, premium refunds from VA Life Insurance Funds, and dividend checks. If you can’t access a veteran’s record with the name you entered into the database, contact the VA to provide additional identifying information. Should the post office be unable to locate the rightful recipient, the cash is considered undeliverable and returned to the VA.
Free locator tools and other forms of assistance are available in twenty-nine states. You can reach out to your state’s insurance department to find out if this type of locator tool is available in your area. If the policy in question originated in Canada, contact the Canadian Ombudservice for Life and Health Information for help with accessing policy information.
NAIC Life Insurance Policy Locator Service
Launched in 2016 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), this confidential, free tool has fielded more than 227,000 requests so far. In 2020, the NAIC reported that 81,000 matches had been made, totaling more than $1 billion in life insurance annuities and claims. You’ll need to provide information such as the policy holder’s Social Security number and birth date. If you’re the policy beneficiary or legally allowed to be informed of the policy status, the insurer will contact you.
Follow Up On Clues
There are certain situations where unearthing information about a life insurance policy can require some sleuthing, some piecing together of clues, and some pure dogged determination. Start by talking with people who were close to the policyholder or who helped to manage their personal affairs, such as family members, close friends, doctors, spiritual advisers, even coworkers. Professional advisers might also provide you with important details. It’s worth checking in with financial planners, lawyers, or insurance agents with whom the policyholder conferred.
Look for a paper trail that can lead you to more detailed information about a policy, or the policy’s location. Check safe-deposit boxes, bank records, income tax documents, and the like for any names, dates, and other facts that can facilitate access to life insurance documents.
You can also consider hiring a private company to do the legwork and conduct an investigation on your behalf. While taking this route can save you time, money, and aggravation, you might only reap benefits if the company is reputable and it conducts a thorough and ethical search.