Whether your intent is to find existing life insurance policies for a loved one who passed or locate a policy taken out on you, the process can seem insurmountable if you do not know where to begin. Fee-based locator services may be able to help, but saving this option as a last resort can also save you money. To find existing life insurance policies, you will need to be diligent and realize this may take some time and a great deal of effort to accomplish.
Perform an Internal Investigation
Collect personal and financial documents. Items to look for include checkbooks, bank and credit card statements, payroll check stubs, tax returns going back a minimum of two years, paper-based and electronic address books and papers or business cards saved in a file cabinet or drawer. Do not overlook homeowners and automobile insurance papers, as these can contain bundled insurance plans or the agent may remember referring the policyholder to a life insurance agent. In addition, look for correspondence with a family attorney.
Look through the items you collected for evidence of correspondence with, or payment to an insurance company. Separate and list items that can possibly lead you to an existing life insurance policy. Look specifically for the names of insurance agencies, notes or memos that identify a payment as an insurance premium, brochures and business cards. On tax returns, look for interest income from an insurance company.
Contact each company, attorney and former employer on your list by phone or by mail. Be prepared to provide the person's full name, date of birth and social security number. If there is an existing life insurance policy, you will receive further instructions regarding how to file for benefits.
Perform an External Investigation
Contact the deceased person’s bank to see if they had a safe deposit box.
Check with the unclaimed property division for the state or states you believe the person purchased a life insurance policy. Most states provide online access for searching an unclaimed property database and instructions for recovering property you find.
Get a list of insurance companies from your state insurance department for the state or states you believe the person purchased a life insurance policy. Narrow the list by area and contact each agency to find existing life insurance policies.
Contact a policy locator service if efforts to locate an existing life insurance policy fail and you still believe one exists.
When conducting an internal investigation, make sure you include less obvious places such as the basement and attic in your search.
Insurance agents usually have identifying credentials such as CLU, CPCU, ChFC or LUTCF. Look for these credentials when inspecting correspondence that may not be on company letterhead.
Keep your search organized and make copies of all documents, such as letters, you send by mail.
Some external investigative methods, such as checking a bank safe deposit box, will require that you have power of attorney status or be the executor of the estate.
- NAIC. "NAIC Life Insurance Policy Locator Helps Consumers Find $650 Million in Life Insurance." Accessed Feb. 23, 2020
- Inside Edition. "Man Discovers He's Owed $97,000 From His Late Mom's Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy." Accessed Feb. 23, 2020
- Insurance Information Institute. " Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits 5 Reasons Your Life Insurance Benefits Might Go Unclaimed." Accessed Feb. 23, 2020
- NAIC. "Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits." Accessed Feb. 23, 2020
- National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. "Find and Claim your Unclaimed Property." Accessed Feb. 23, 2020
- Insurance Information Institute. "Insurance Fraud." Accessed Feb. 23, 2020
- Insurance Information Institute. "12 Steps for Locating a Lost Life Insurance Policy." Accessed Feb. 23, 2020.
- NAIC. "Looking In the Lost and Found." Accessed Feb 24, 2020.
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.