The United States has a large number of unclaimed life insurance benefits. In fact, there may be over $1 billion of unclaimed life insurance money, according to experts in the treasury department. How is this possible? Turns out, many people purchase life insurance policies, but they don’t tell their beneficiaries.
Maybe they don’t want to talk about money, or maybe they just don’t want to bring up their death, but unfortunately, they never get around to telling their loved ones about the policies. When a policyholder dies, the beneficiary may not even have a clue that a policy actually exists. Legally, an insurance company is not obligated to pay on a life insurance policy until the beneficiary makes a claim. But this will never happen if the beneficiary knows nothing about the policy. Some insurance companies attempt to track down beneficiaries, and some states require them to use the social security numbers of deceased policyholders to locate beneficiaries.
Even if they try, though, it is not always possible to locate the beneficiaries. It is illegal for insurance companies to keep unclaimed life insurance funds., so when insurance companies are not able to find the rightful owners, the unclaimed funds are turned over to the state. When this happens, it is called escheatment. Once the insurance agency forwards these funds to the state, each state creates a database where people can search for unclaimed funds via the policyholder’s personal information.
Ways to Find Unclaimed Life Insurance Policies
How can you find an unclaimed life insurance policy? You will need a few important items of information such as the name, maiden name, social security number, the state where the policy was bought, a copy of the death certificate, and possibly the name of the insurance company. The following are just a few ways to get the information that you need, or at least to get you started:
- Websites: There are various websites such as missingmoney.com or vitalcheck.com where you can enter a name and location to see if there are unclaimed policies or money on file for a deceased person. If a match is found, you willl be required to submit a claim to prove that you are the legitimate beneficiary of the life insurance policy.
- Go Directly to the Insurance Company: Ask the insurance company if your loved one had an active life insurance policy with the company. However, understand that an insurance company will not release information unless you are a legal beneficiary, which you must prove by filling out a claim form.
- Question the Deceased’s Employer: If your loved one had an active policy through his employer, then you might be eligible for a payout.
- Track Down the Information on Your Own: Do your own research if you are sure that your loved had a life insurance policy. You can find this information by looking for insurance bills, credit card statements bank statements, tax forms, cancelled checks, and postal mail. Basically, you are looking for any evidence that proves that your loved one was making premium payments to an insurance company.
Additional Information to Consider
You may have noticed that there are a lot of steps and pages of paperwork to fill out to start the process. Here are just a few more tips to keep in mind:
- Scammers are out there, and they want to take advantage of your loss. Insurance companies and state agencies will never charge a fee to find the information that you need about an unclaimed policy. This should be a warning sign!
- If an insurance company says that a policy does not exist for your loved one, don’t give up hope. The funds might have already been paid to another beneficiary or released to the state.
- Make sure you’re searching the right state. Did your loved one move right before they passed away? The policy could be in their previous state of residence.
- Double check your search information. It’s possible you knew your Great-Uncle George your whole life without knowing that George was really his middle name. If you’ve hit a roadblock, ask the rest of your family for verification.