Life insurance proceeds go unclaimed for various reasons. Sometimes beneficiaries are unaware that the policy exists or whether they are named beneficiaries on the policy. They could also have moved, and thus the insurance provider isn’t aware of their new address. They could be unfamiliar with the process of filing a claim if the insurance company closes shop and transfers policies to another carrier without notifying beneficiaries. The carrier may lose contact if the policyholder shifts to another residence and doesn’t inform the insurer about the change of address. The insurer may also be unaware that the policyholder passed on if no one sends a notification.
Who are the Beneficiaries of a Lost Claim?
The named beneficiaries are the ones to file a claim after the policyholder’s demise; nonetheless, a family member, trustee, or estate lawyer may also file the claim. Funeral homes can also file in case the proceeds are to cover the burial costs. However, regardless of who files the claim, only the beneficiaries can collect the policy’s benefits. While the requirements on what to provide when filing a claim generally vary from insurer to insurer, most insurers require named beneficiaries to provide:
- The policyholder’s social security number
- The policyholder’s date of death and birth
- Cause of death
- Death certificates
- Identity of the funeral home
- A copy of their government-issued ID, such as passport or driver’s license
With some insurers, you can submit the claim online or via the phone, but others can only allow you to submit it through snail mail.
How to Find Lost Life Insurance Policy and Other Assets?
You can use the Life Insurance Policy Locator Service provided by NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners). The online portal requires you to provide information about the deceased, like their last known address, social security number, last name, and dates of death and birth. The locator service won’t give you instant results. It may take months and you may have to provide the policyholder’s death certificate before making a claim. This service works best when you use it shortly after your loved one’s death.
In 2019, NAIC’s free locator helped over 46,600 beneficiaries to locate over $650 million worth of annuities and policies. If it has been years since your loved one passed on, you should consider using the NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators) website. The website comes with a map that points you to every US state’s unclaimed property unit. The units oversee all kinds of unclaimed assets, including life insurance, and so you should search their records. You can file a claim if you find assets that belong to you. The agency will contact you through email, informing you of the steps you need to take to get your money. They may demand a copy of your ID, Social Security Number, and evidence that you once resided or currently reside at the address linked to the unclaimed or lost property.
Other Places to Find Information Include:
- Search for files: Look for financial documents of your loved one in their residence and as well as safe deposit boxes.
- Examine mail: Search for premium and dividend notices.
- Examine tax returns: Search for interest income.
- Contact financial advisors: Financial advisors, estate planners, lawyers, and accountants may have information about their deceased clients.
- Contact former employer: Find out if the deceased had an employer-sponsored group policy.