Locating life insurance documents for a deceased relative can be a daunting task. However, with a little sleuthing, you can successfully navigate the paper trail. Here are some strategies to help simplify your search.
Look for insurance related documents
Search through files, bank safe deposit boxes and other storage places to see if there are any insurance related documents. Also, check address books for the names of any insurance professionals or companies—an agent or company who sold the deceased their auto or home insurance may know about the existence of a life insurance policy.
Contact financial advisors
Present or prior attorneys, accountants, investment advisors, bankers, business insurance agents/brokers and other financial professionals might have information about the deceased’s life insurance policies.
Review life insurance applications
The application for each policy is attached to that policy. So if you can find any of the deceased’s life insurance policies, look at the application—will have a list of any other life insurance policies owned at the time of the application.
Contact previous employers
Former employers maintain records of past group policies.
Check bank statements
See if any checks or automated payments have been made out to life insurance companies over the years.
Check the mail
For the year following the death of the policyholder, look for premium notices or dividend notices. If a policy has been paid up, there will no notice of premium payments due; however, the company may still send an annual notice regarding the status of the policy or notice of a dividend.
Review income tax returns
Look over the deceased’s tax returns for the past two years to see if there is interest income from and interest expenses paid to life insurance companies. Life insurance companies pay interest on accumulations on permanent policies and charge interest on policy loans.
Contact state insurance departments
State insurance departments offer free search services to residents looking for lost policies.
Check with the state’s Unclaimed Property Office
If a life insurance company knows that an insured client has died but can’t find the beneficiary, it must turn the death benefit over to the state in which the policy was purchased as “unclaimed property.”
If you know (or can guess) where the policy was bought, you can contact the state comptroller’s department to see if it has any unclaimed money from life insurance policies belonging to the deceased.
Contact a private search service
Several private companies will, for a fee, assist you with the search for a lost life insurance policy. They will contact insurance companies on your behalf to find out if the deceased was insured. This service is often provided through a websites.