You may be owed unclaimed life insurance money: Here's how to find out

Here’s how to find out if you’re owed unclaimed life insurance benefits from a lost policy. (iStock)

Each year, millions of dollars worth of life insurance benefits go unclaimed.

This happens when an insured person dies and their beneficiaries don't receive the benefits they're entitled to, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Here are the most common reasons why life insurance benefits go unclaimed:

  • The insurer doesn’t have the policyholder’s accurate, up-to-date contact information.
  • The insurer is unaware the insured has died.
  • The insurer is unable to locate the policy’s beneficiaries.
  • The beneficiaries don’t know the policy exists.
  • The original life insurance company no longer exists.

Thankfully, there are ways to determine if you're owed unclaimed benefits from a missing policy. Keep reading to learn more, and visit Credible to compare life insurance policies so that your beneficiaries are prepared financially if you die unexpectedly.

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3 ways to locate a lost life insurance policy

There are several ways to determine if you're owed life insurance money after a relative's passing. Plus, you can learn more about life insurance and determine what kind of policy is right for you on Credible's online financial marketplace.

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1. Search for insurance policy paperwork

If you have Power of Attorney — or if you're the executor of the deceased's estate — you may be able to check their financial records, mail, bank statements, safe deposit box, address book and other personal files for policy paperwork and other related materials.

Also, ask your family members and go through through your files to check for any pertinent policy materials related to a life insurance payout that you may have forgotten about.

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2. Reach out to relevant contacts

When you don't know if your loved one had an unclaimed life insurance policy, you might be able to track down someone who does.

See if the deceased worked with financial professionals like a financial advisor, accountant or insurance agent. You may also be able to find more information about existing life insurance policies by reaching out to their former employers, labor unions and other professional associations.

Understandably, some parties may be unwilling to disclose confidential personal information. If that's the case, you may be able to gain more information by proving your identity.

If you are unable to get specific financial information, you may be able to ask which life insurance company the deceased was covered under. That way, you can reach out to the company directly to see if your loved one had a policy.

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3. Utilize a life insurance policy locator tool

Searching for a policy using the steps above can seem like a time-consuming affair, but it doesn't have to be that way. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers a free life insurance policy locator service to help you determine if you're owed death benefits after a loved one's passing.

Between November 2016 and July 2020, the NAIC Life Policy Locator tool has led to 81,349 matches with claim amounts of more than $1 billion. Beneficiaries were owed more than $12,600 on average in unpaid benefits.

First, you'll need to set up an account on the NAIC website. The request form will require the following information on the deceased person: 

  • Social Security number
  • Legal first and last name
  • Date of birth and death

There's no limit to the number of free searches you can submit. 

Upon completing the request, the NAIC will send your request to participating life insurance companies to search their records to determine whether they have a policy in the name of the deceased. If there's a match, the insurance company will respond to you directly.

If there's no match, it may be a good time to consider your own life insurance needs. You can browse policy offers and coverage options across life insurers for free on Credible.

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Have a finance-related question, but don't know who to ask? Email The Credible Money Expert at [email protected] and your question might be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.

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