Losing an annuity contract could mean missing out on a valuable income stream. You receive a contract at the time of purchase from the issuing insurance company that details the terms, interest rate and benefits. It usually takes five to 10 years for an annuity to mature, which explains why you may have a hard time remembering where you kept the contract. Alternately, perhaps you need to find the lost annuity of a deceased family member. Finding lost insurance policies or finding lost annuities can be challenging, but not entirely impossible.
Who Can You Ask About a Lost Annuity?
Life insurance policies, including annuities, provide death benefits, such as cash payouts to your beneficiaries. Annuities also provide the owner with living benefits in the form of a pension-style income stream. You can only acquire annuities and other policies through state-licensed insurance agents. In some instances, agents earn residual income for policy sales years after the purchase was made.
Contact your agent and request a copy of the missing policy. If the agent no longer works in the business, research whether the agent sold the business to someone else. That person should have records of active policies, including your annuity.
Insurance companies and agents are governed at the state level. Each state has recordkeeping requirements for insurance contracts, this is often a minimum of five years. If you are searching for the annuity belonging to someone who is deceased, seeking the original agent may not be a realistic option.
Where Can You Seek to Find Lost Annuities?
Life insurance agents are often independent, which means they sell annuities for a variety of different firms. If you remember the name of the issuing company, contact that firm directly. Make contact by phone or letter and provide basic information, such as your name, date of birth and Social Security number. The company can give you copies of your original contract. Provide the company with your current address to ensure you receive statements on the account.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is an organization that provides national support for state insurance regulators. NAIC provides an online policy locator tool for locating lost annuity contracts and life insurance policies owned by deceased individuals. After submitting a request to NAIC, they will go on to check with participating insurers regarding the named owner. They will put you in touch with the issuer if you are a beneficiary or authorized to receive information on the policy.
Is There Protection Against Annuity Risks?
Insurance companies are engaged in the business of risk, and some become insolvent as a result. When this occurs, state regulators seize the struggling firms' assets. Every state has a guaranty fund that insures policies, including annuities, up to varying dollar limits.
If your policy issuer has gone bust, contact the guaranty fund to check on the status of your investment. Your contract might have been sold to a solvent firm. Even if not, you can reclaim the portion of your money that was protected by the state guaranty fund.
What if I Still Cannot Locate an Annuity?
State laws require insurance firms to surrender abandoned property. This includes funds from inactive annuities. In some states, a contract is technically abandoned if the insurance firm has not been in contact with the owner within the last three years. When this happens, insurers hand over or "escheat" the cash to the state. You can conduct a lost annuity search by searching your state's unclaimed property database.
It is a good idea to check the state unclaimed property databse for any other unclaimed funds that might be owed to you as well. Once you've located any lost funds, such as your unclaimed annuities, you can reclaim the money from the state.