Thanks to the efforts of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), families who are left scrambling to find life insurance policy paperwork after the loss of a loved one now have an easier way to go about the process.
Free life insurance locator service
Losing a life insurance policy is a common thing. After you’ve checked the closet, the dresser, the shoebox and the safe… where in the world could it be?
The Life Insurance Policy Locator Service now allows you to run a nationwide search for any insurance policies or annuities that may be out there in the name of the deceased. You have to be the designated beneficiary or legal representative of the deceased to use this service.
In the two years since this tool was introduced, it has already helped connect 21,530 people with lost policies, according to USA Today. The reported face value of those policies adds up to nearly $309.2 million!
State-specific locator searches
In addition to the national solution, several states have long offered free locator services through their insurance departments.
These state-specific locator services only apply to policies purchased in these participating states:
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
- New York
As a general rule, you’ll need the deceased’s full name (including maiden name for a married individual) and Social Security number just to do a search through these sites. Then to actually claim a policy’s benefits, you’ll need a copy of the death certificate.
It can take up to 90 days for an insurance company to respond to your request for information.
If you run into any problems, your best bet is to contact your state insurance department and ask about the process you need to go through. All insurance is regulated at the state level.
Unclaimed property search
Insurers subscribe to databases that tell them when policyholders die. If they can’t track down the beneficiaries on a policy, they must turn any benefits over to the state unclaimed property office.
The period after which an insurer has to surrender unclaimed benefits to the state varies by state. But if you think this could be the case in your situation, we’ve got advice on how to track down unclaimed money and property that could be out there in your name.
An ounce of prevention can help avoid a lost policy
To avoid the hassle of making your beneficiaries search for your policy after death, the NAIC recommends the following:
- Update your beneficiary information. Make sure your company and agent have current contact details for all listed beneficiaries.
- Alert your beneficiaries of the policy. Provide them with the name of your agent and the name of the company that wrote the policy.
- Make sure a current copy of your policy is with your will or estate paperwork in a safe place where your family or beneficiaries will know to look for it and will have access.
- Consider asking your insurance company for an annual policy statement if one isn’t provided.