How to Find a Life Insurance Policy After Someone Dies
Life insurance policies, alongside other death benefits, can mean a huge relief for many families, especially if they’re burdened with financial responsibilities after someone passes away. While life insurance policies can be extremely useful, there are many times where someone will take out a life insurance policy and forget to notify anyone in their family that they have a policy. There are other times where someone pulls out a life insurance policy, notifies their family, but doesn’t have any record or proof that they have a policy at the time of death. Searching through documents to find out if a life insurance policy exists might seem tedious, but it can be extremely beneficial if you’re able to find it. If you’re looking for information on how to find life insurance policies of a deceased parent or how to find a deceased person's life insurance policy, or are just at a loss in your ongoing search, continue reading.
Finding a life insurance policy can take time, even in the case where you’re certain there is one. Due to this, it’s a good idea to have alternative methods of payment to cover funeral expenses. If you’re unable to afford a funeral, starting a memorial fundraiser is a quick and simple way to start getting support for unexpected expenses. Many families are surprised by how quickly they need to come up with money when it comes to funerals and funeral planning, but are often also surprised by the amount of support they find in their community during such a difficult time. If you’re not sure if you can find the life insurance policy in time for the funeral, consider starting a funeral fundraiser.
Look through documents, especially those related to insurance
Take a look through all possible documents in each of the storage locations the deceased kept important documents. This includes filing cabinets, folders, safes, safety deposit boxes at banks, and anywhere else they filed or kept information. Your loved one might have applied for a life insurance policy a long time ago, so the life insurance policy might be buried beneath other, more recent documents.
Inspect bank statements
Bank statements can help you search through any payments made to any insurance companies. The statement might also let you know what kind of policy the payments were made to, so pay attention to the details. If you have access to the decedent’s online banking information, you can search through electronic versions of bank statements in the same manner. If you’re searching through online statements, you can usually narrow down the statements to include payments to specific companies, categories, amounts, or dates -- this might help you quickly find related information. If you find payments to a life insurance policy, contact the company and notify them of the decedent’s death.
Check through email accounts
If the decedent had a life insurance policy, chances are there’s emails or evidence about it in their email accounts. Look through all of their available email accounts for keywords (like ‘life insurance’ or ‘policy’ or ‘insured’, for example) or for company names you might think they’ve dealt with. Many people have more than one email address, so be sure to check all accounts you have access to.
Search his or her digital storage
There are online services that keep a ‘vault’ of important information for you in the case that you pass away. They might have had an account with one of these services that would’ve sent a notification to those registered to receive information about them. Check your own emails to see if anything was sent to you regarding a vault or end of life documentation.
They might have uploaded their documents to other popular document storage services such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, and others. If you have access to those accounts, it’s worth it to check through all of them. If you don’t have access to those accounts, but do have access to their email accounts, perform a search for those storage services in the email accounts.
Look through his or her safety deposit box
A safety deposit box is a secure box that’s usually stored in a bank or a credit union. If you suspect or know that the decedent had a safety deposit box (or you’ve found evidence of this in their mail, email, or documents), start the process of retrieving those contents. Banks usually seal a safety deposit box after they’re notified that someone dies. Your first step will be to get in touch with the bank directly and ask what the process is regarding unsealing the safety deposit box. If you’re a surviving spouse, beneficiary, executor, or a fiduciary, many banks will grant you access to the safety deposit box after certain documentation is filed. The documentation necessary varies by state, you’ll most likely need to file a petition with the court to have the bank unseal the safety deposit box.
Ask his or her employer
Many individuals have life insurance policies that are provided by their employer, usually referred to as group life insurance. If you know the employer of the decedent, get in touch with the company to see if you can find out if they had a life insurance policy on file. The company will likely be able to provide useful information on next steps.
Ask family members
People will sometimes let family members or close friends know that they’ve opened up a life insurance policy, in the event that something happens to them. Ask the decedent’s friends and family if any of them know whether or not the decedent had a life insurance policy. If they confirm there was a life insurance policy, see if you can find out which insurer the life insurance policy was with. If you need to get in touch with many people, quickly, consider creating a memorial website and sharing it with as many people as you know. Let people know that you’re in search of assistance in finding out whether or not the decedent had a life insurance policy and to contact you with any information.
Check the mail
While many people have gone paperless and prefer not to receive important information through mail, it’s likely that the life insurance company sent over physical copies of the life insurance policy (and other crucial information) at one time or another. Check any stacks of mail, both recent and old, for evidence of al ife insurance policy. It’s also possible that they’ve received mail from the insurer that doesn’t immediately reference their active life insurance policy. If there’s any mail from any insurer, check with those companies to see if there was an active life insurance policy.
Contact the decedent’s financial advisers
If there was a life insurance policy, it’s likely that the decedent’s financial advisor is aware of it. Get in touch with any present or past lawyers, accountants, tax advisors, investment advisors, business & personal insurance brokers, financial advisors, or other professionals in the finance industry who the decedent worked with. Ask if they have any information about a life insurance policy that could point you in the right direction.
Scan through tax returns
If the decedent had a policy, there can sometimes be interest paid or accrued on those policies that will show up on tax returns. Some life insurance companies will charge interest on any loans they’ve given out for policies, so carefully review the tax returns for hints on interest paid.
Contact your state’s insurance department
Wouldn’t it be easier if there was a website to find out if someone has life insurance? There is! The majority of states in the U.S. offer free services to help you locate life insurance policies and can point you in the direction of life insurance databases. Contact your state’s insurance department to see if they offer help in this area. If you’re having trouble locating information on this or don’t know who to reach, use the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)’s life insurance database to get started.
Get in touch with your state’s unclaimed property office
In cases where the insurance company knows that the insured has died, but is unable to locate the beneficiaries, they are required to pass the death benefit over to the state (where the policy was purchased) as unclaimed property. To find unclaimed property, you’ll want to get in touch with the state’s controller for more information. If you’re unsure where to start, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators has a tool to help you navigate life insurance databases and locate unclaimed property.
The state the policy was purchased in may be different than the state that the decedent lived in, so it’s a good idea to check with each of the states they previously lived in to see if there were any policies.
Searching for a life insurance policy is usually one of the last things someone wants to do after losing a loved one. The good news is that you’ll likely be able to locate the policy if you follow the steps above, assuming one exists. In addition to that, if you don’t claim the life insurance policy immediately, that doesn’t mean it simply goes away. The life insurance policy will be handed over to the state government and considered unclaimed property, which you’ll be able to locate through the right services. If you feel like it’s not worth the time or hassle, it’s good to keep in mind that there is over $1 Billion in unclaimed life insurance benefits, just waiting to be found.
There are plenty of times where a family might be under the impression that their loved one had a life insurance policy, when in reality they did not. Many people intend on getting life insurance, but just end up forgetting to get one. Others might assume they don’t need life insurance due to their age. In any case, if you were counting on a life insurance policy to cover funeral funds and find out there’s no policy, it’s time to look into other options. Starting a funeral fundraiser can be an excellent way to quickly raise funds to cover unexpected expenses. You can start a fundraiser on Ever Loved in under 10 minutes and will be able to start raising money to cover costs as soon as it’s set up. Many families have been overwhelmed by the generosity of their community in times of distress and are often surprised by the amount of support they receive.