Life insurance is one of the most economical ways to protect your family, reduce estate taxes, or fund charitable giving bequests. However, since life insurance policies can be purchased years and often decades before a claim is filed, there is plenty of time to have misplaced the policy itself over the years.
Below are 15 ways to help locate a lost life insurance policy whether it is your own or that of a beloved individual who has passed.
Search Files - Life insurance policies can get buried in old filing cabinets, desks, and storage boxes. Searching your files is often the best place to start.
Public Records – Check the public records of the individual for such events like divorce or probate as a life insurance policy may have been made a part of the proceeding.
Check the Mail – Premium invoices, quarterly statements, and annual notices are common documents that are still sent via the USPS.
Contact Advisors – Contact accountants, attorneys, and financial planners who may have provided guidance in purchasing the life insurance policy.
Safe deposit boxes – Life insurance is a valuable financial instrument, and many people will store them in safe deposit boxes along with other important documents.
Contact Employers – Reach out to both the most recent and prior employers. It is common for many employees to take employee offered life insurance coverage with them when they leave but the employer will still have a record.
Review Tax Returns – Certain life insurance purchases may have allowed for a tax deduction. Additionally, if cash was pulled out of a whole or variable life insurance policy, there may have been a taxable event recorded.
Check Bank Statements – If the insurance was a term life policy or a permanent policy not yet paid up, chances are premiums have been paid in the last year.
Search Online Databases – There are two national online databases where a life insurance policy may have its record stored include the MIB Underwriting Group and the NAIC Life Insurance Policy Locator Service.
Hire a Private Search Firm – For those short on time or resources, you can hire private search firms (for a fee) who can help track down lost life insurance policies.
Contact Insurance Departments – Insurance is governed at the state level and most states keep substantial databases of life insurance transactions.
Check State Unclaimed Property Office – Permanent life insurance policy which goes unclaimed may find its way into one of the more than two dozen state unclaimed property offices.
Check With Other Insurance Companies – Contact homeowners and automobile insurance companies where coverage had been placed in the past as they may be the company from whom the life insurance was purchased from.
Contact Member Associations – If the insured was a member of a trade, military, union, or other association, contact a representative to learn if a life insurance policy was purchased.
A lost life insurance policy does not mean all is lost. Life insurance policies are contracts and even if the physical document cannot be found, if you know who the insurance company is, usually all that may be required to start the claims process is the individual’s name, social security number, and date of birth.