People buy life insurance to protect against financial loss when they die. But what happens if they don’t let anyone know about their policy? Their family could miss out on much-needed money to cover the loss of income, pay off debt and handle other responsibilities. Here’s how to find out if someone has life insurance.
A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan for your family’s needs and goals.
How to Find Out If Someone Has Life Insurance
Unfortunately, too many life insurance policies go unclaimed because surviving beneficiaries don’t know about those policies. You can find lost or unclaimed life insurance by checking your state’s unclaimed property office or the state insurance commissioner. Here are 11 common ways to find out if someone has life insurance:
Unclaimed property records. Several websites offer unclaimed property search capabilities. These sites discover unclaimed assets for both alive and deceased investors. Example sites include Unclaimed.org and MissingMoney.com.
Insurance commissioners. Each state manages and monitors life insurance companies that operate within their state. Contact the insurance commission for every state that they lived in to search for unclaimed policies. Additionally, use the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website to search for policies from participating companies.
Talk to family and friends. Investors may share their estate planning strategies and accounts with different family members and friends. Often, each person may only have a fraction of the overall plan. Because of this, it pays to reach out to every person that you can think of who might have knowledge of an existing life insurance policy.
Search personal belongings. While some investors have great organizational skills, others do not. Carefully go through their personal belongings to locate unopened mail, paid bills, bank statements, notes and other proof of financial assets. The proof of these unclaimed policies may be hidden in drawers, piled on a dresser, locked within a safe, boxed in the attic or other unexpected places. You should also inquire with local banks to verify if the deceased had a safe deposit box.
Check unopened mail. When someone is in the hospital or suffering from medical issues, it is common for bills and other mail to pile up unopened. Don’t throw them away. Open each item carefully to discover potential bank accounts, investments or life insurance policies that have been missed.
Look through paid bills. Some investors keep copies of all paid bills. These paid statements may be hard copies or in digital format. If you can locate insurance policy records, you may find proof that an unclaimed policy exists.
Review bank statements and cleared checks. If the deceased person paid their life insurance premiums, you may find proof by looking at their bank statements and cleared checks. Many payments today are made electronically, either by automatic withdrawal or by initiating an online bill pay. Cleared checks are proof of payments made to different people and organizations. Searching through those records may uncover a policy that you didn’t know existed.
Search through computer and other digital storage. Some investors scan their valuable documents and store them on their computers, external drives or cloud storage. These may include copies of the life insurance policy, premium payments or annual statements. In some cases, you may need to provide a death certificate in order to gain access to cloud storage files. Personal finance programs like Mint may also include life insurance policy information.
Contact employers and member organizations. Many employers and member organizations offer life insurance to employees and members. In some cases, those policies remain in force long after the person leaves the company or stops being a member. They should have records of any life insurance benefits that you may be due.
Talk with financial advisors and lawyers. Reach out to the deceased’s financial advisors and lawyers to inquire about life insurance. The financial advisor may have sold them a policy or reviewed an existing policy. And the lawyer may know about the policy from estate planning discussions.
Hire a private search firm. If all else fails, paying a private search firm to locate your unclaimed life insurance proceeds could make sense. These companies may be expensive, so only take this route if you can afford their fees and are sure that a policy exists.
Now that you know how to find out if someone has life insurance, take these steps for your deceased relatives to find out if you or someone else is owed money. Investors have made premium payments for years with their money. It would be a shame if their beneficiaries never receive money that they are due. If you need help, talk with a financial advisor who may be able to assist in locating unclaimed death benefits.
Tips for Life Insurance
- Buying the right amount of insurance is important for estate planning and your budget. Buy too little and your financial needs go unmet. Buy too much and it could interfere with meeting your other goals. Our insurance calculator estimates what you need based on the goals you have.
- Working with a financial advisor helps investors allocate their money towards meeting each of their goals. An advisor discusses your budget and creates a plan to cover your insurance needs without sacrificing retirement, college and other needs. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
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