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Wills and estate planning

Finding a life insurance policy after death

Even if your loved one didn’t leave their documents in order, you can begin tracking policies with information in this article.

Locating a life insurance policy

If someone dies without leaving a letter of instruction, last will and testament, or other document specifying whether they purchased a life insurance policy, there are several ways to go about finding out if they did.

Ways to find out if your loved one had a life insurance policy

First, you'll need to know the deceased's full name (and maiden name, if applicable), Social Security number, and state (or possible states) they might have purchased a policy in. You'll also need a death certificate in order to actually make life insurance claims on any policy you find. Here are a few of the best ways to determine whether your spouse or loved one owned a life insurance policy that you or your family members stand to benefit from.

  • Contact the deceased's attorney, banker, estate executor, or accountant to see if they have record or knowledge of any life insurance policy under the deceased's name. You should also check with the deceased's bank, as well as other local banks to see if the deceased might have stored this valuable information in a local safety deposit box.
  • Check with the insurance companies that the deceased purchased their car and home insurance through, in the event they also had a life insurance policy through that insurer.
  • Check with the deceased's former employer or union. They may have purchased an employer-sponsored life insurance policy through work.
  • Check with your state's insurance department, as well as their unclaimed property office. You can find the required contact info for your state's insurance department at the National Association of Insurance Commissioner's website. You can also search for unclaimed property (which includes life insurance claims) in any state on the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrator’s website.

What if a life insurance policy exists

If you determine that the deceased did own a policy, the next step is to learn more about the policy and the beneficiaries. If you are able to locate an active life insurance policy owned by your late spouse or loved one that you stand to benefit from, you and any other beneficiaries of that policy can contact the company directly to make your life insurance claims.

Who can claim the policy?

Only the beneficiary or appointed power of attorney can submit a life insurance claim on a policy. Generally, life insurance claims are paid within 30 days once all the necessary paperwork has been submitted. 

What information is needed to claim?

If you submit for a claim, you will need to prove your identity so that the insurance company can ensure you are the beneficiary. You’ll also be required to submit a death certificate along with a claim form, which you can likely find on the insurance company’s website, and policy information.

What happens to the death benefit if the policy remains unclaimed?

Life insurance companies are legally required to search for beneficiaries once they become aware that their policy holder is deceased, but payouts are usually not issued automatically. 

In cases when the insurance company knows the insured has passed away but they are unable to identify or locate the beneficiaries, the company turns the death benefit over to the state as “unclaimed property.” Most states have an unclaimed property database, which can be searched. There is no time limit on the timeframe in which you must claim the passing of the insured, but the sooner the better.

If you have additional questions about estate planning, creating a will, or creating a living trust, you can find all the answers you need in our Protective Learning Center. Be sure to protect your loved one's future with a free online term life quote today.



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