DEar Savvy Senior: When my father passed away, we thought he had a life insurance policy, but we don’t know how to find it. No suggestion? – Son looking
Dear research: Lost or forgotten life insurance policies are common in the United States. According to a Consumer Reports study, 1 in 600 people are the beneficiary of an unclaimed life insurance policy with an average profit of $ 2,000. It could be like finding out that you have a secret savings account.
Unfortunately, there is no national database to track these policies. But there are a number of strategies and a few resources that can help you with your research. Here are several to get you started.
>> Search in his recordings: Check your dad’s financial records or where he kept important papers to look for a policy, premium payment statements, or insurer bills. Also, contact their employer or former benefits administrator, insurance agents, financial planner, accountant, lawyer, or other advisor, and ask if they know of a life insurance policy. Also check safes, watch mail for premium invoices or lifetime dividend notices, and review old tax returns, looking for interest income and interest charges paid to insurance companies. -life.
>> Acquire help: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a policy locator service (see NAIC.org and click on “Consumer”, then “Life Insurance Policy Reader”) that allows you to search through nationwide insurance policies or annuities on behalf of people who died. There are also six state insurance departments (Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and Oregon) that offer free policy locator services programs that can help you search. To find direct access to these state resources, visit the American Council of Life Insurers website at ACLI.com – click on “Missing Policy Tips”.
>> Contact the insurer: If you believe that a particular insurer has underwritten the policy, contact that insurer’s claims office and ask. The more information you have, such as your father’s date of birth and death, social security number and address, the easier it will be to find them. Here are the contact information for some major insurers: Prudential, 800-778-2255; MetLife, Metlife.com/policyfinder; AIG, 800-888-2452; Nationwide, 800-848-6331; John Hancock, JohnHancock.com – click on “Lost or Unclaimed Policy Form” at the bottom of the page under “Quick Links”.
>> Search for unclaimed property: If your father died more than a few years ago, the benefits may have already been remitted to the unclaimed property office in the state where the policy was purchased. Visit Missing Money.com, a website for the National Association of Unclaimed Property Managers, to search for records from 39 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Or, to find links to each state’s unclaimed property division, use Unclaimed.org.
If your father’s name or the name of a potential benefactor produces success, you will need to prove your claim. The required documents, which may vary by state, are detailed in the claim forms and a death certificate may be required.
>> Find paid services: There are several companies that offer policy locator services for a fee. The MIB Group, for example, which is a data sharing service for life and health insurance companies, offers a policy locator service on MIB.com for $ 75. But it only tracks individual policy requests made since 1996.
You can also get help from Policy Inspector (PolicyInspector.com) for $ 99 and L-LIFE (LostLifeIns.com) for $ 108.50, who will do the research for you.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” and the author of “The Savvy Senior”. Send your questions to Savvy Senior, PO Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.