Losing someone you love is never easy. You may find yourself navigating the grieving process and the logistics of death at the same time, and that can be a tough combo, especially if you are not sure if the person you’ve lost was insured.
When someone dies with a life insurance policy in force, their beneficiaries can file a claim with the insurer to collect the policy’s death benefit. But what happens when an insured person dies and their beneficiaries have no idea a policy exists?
If you’re wondering how to find out if someone has life insurance, this article can help by pointing you in the direction of online life insurance policy locator tools and some helpful search methods to consider.
Who Can Request Life Insurance Information?
Most insurance companies and life insurance policy locator tools will require you to enter personal information about the deceased person to determine if they have a life insurance policy. This personal information can include first and last name, Social Security number, date of birth, date of death, cause of death, country of death, and your relationship to the decedent. This release of information is generally only granted to a named life insurance beneficiary, next of kin, an appointed attorney, or the executor of the deceased’s estate.
So let’s say you fit into one of those roles and have access to your loved one’s personal information — what’s next? How do you find out if someone has life insurance coverage?
5 Ways to Find a Life Insurance Policy
The search for a life insurance policy can involve an old-school approach (like sifting through a pile of papers stuffed into a desk drawer) and high-tech methods (like searching online databases). Discover how to find out if someone has life insurance below. It may take diligence and time, but don’t give up or let it stress you out. In most cases, there is no time limit on making a death claim, so you're not under a deadline here.
Use a Life Insurance Policy Locator
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and MIB Group are both organizations that offer life insurance policy locator tools online. To use the NAIC’s free life insurance policy locator service, you are required to enter the SSN, date of birth, date of death, legal name, and veteran status of the person whose policy you are searching for. You will also need to disclose the relationship the two of you shared.
With the MIB’s policy locator service, you don’t have to provide the SSN of the person who passed away. Instead, will be asked to submit a notarized service order form, an original copy of the death certificate, and a $75 payment.
Search a State’s Registry
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) is an organization that helps people find unclaimed property, and life insurance policies are typically included. The website connects to each state’s treasury department, and the website missingmoney.com.
If you’re fairly certain someone passed away with life insurance, and you know the state the policy would have been issued in, you can search the state’s registry (easily accessed through the NAUPA site).
Reach Out to a Lawyer, Accountant, Financial Advisor, or Insurance Agent
Not everyone has a roster of professionals in their corner, but most people work with at least one or two of the professions above. These types of contacts might be able to help with your life insurance policy search.
For example, if your loved one had an attorney, their legal representative may have information about an insurance policy. Likewise, an accountant or financial advisor with access to someone’s financial transactions may have noted payments to a life insurance company that can serve as clues.
Another idea is to reach out to their home or automobile insurance agent. Insurance can be sold in bundles, and there is a chance they purchased a policy through the same insurance company that covered their vehicle or home.
Talk to Employers, Credit Unions, and Membership Groups
If the person who passed away was employed, had an account with a credit union, or was a member of an association, contact the organization’s benefits coordinator. They may have been offered life insurance as a benefit and might be able to tell you if the person you are inquiring about took advantage of the offer.
Conduct a Floor-to-Ceiling Document Search
Every person has their own “special place” for safekeeping important documents. For some, this might be a neatly labeled file in a well-organized file cabinet; for others, it could be a folded manilla envelope stuffed under a mattress. If you’ve tried all the above and are still wondering how to find out if someone has life insurance, your answer could be found in a pile of papers, a discarded bank statement, or a hollowed-out hardcover book.
What Happens If a Life Insurance Policy Is Not Claimed?
First and foremost, we must address the elephant in the room — the hassle of trying to locate someone’s life insurance policy can easily be avoided. When you purchase a life insurance policy, it’s a good idea to sit down with your beneficiaries and let them know about your policy. Doing so can save your loved ones from the stress of searching.
But what happens when a life insurance policy isn’t claimed? The good news is that the policy’s death benefit doesn’t disappear into the ether. The Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act, signed by most states (but not all, so check in with yours), requires insurers to reconcile their claim records with the Social Security Administration's Death Master File. If they find that a policyholder has died and the death benefit is unclaimed, the life insurance company will then reach out to the beneficiaries on file for the policy to let them know.
After a few years (depending on state regulations), unclaimed death benefits are turned over to the state where the policyowner lived, a transaction called escheat. The state will then try to contact the beneficiaries themselves, and if that doesn’t work, they will then turn the life insurance benefit over to the state treasurer.
Why Should You Update Your Beneficiary Information?
While finding out if someone has life insurance isn’t impossible, it also isn’t easy. The process can be stressful and takes time. The great news is that all of this can be avoided if you have life insurance and keep your beneficiary information up-to-date.
Do You Need a Life Insurance Policy of Your Own?
Processing the death of a loved one can bring some big feelings about your own future. If your search has inspired you to buy a life insurance policy of your own, check out no-medical exam term life insurance.
With Bestow, rates start from just $11 per month, and if approved, you can purchase up to $1.5 million in coverage to help provide your loved ones with a little financial cushion should you pass away. Start with a free quote and apply online in minutes. Most get a same-day decision. Once approved, you can name your policy’s beneficiary and tell them your life is covered.
- An online life insurance policy locator tool can help determine if someone has a life insurance policy.
- If a loved one passes away, you can try searching through their personal documents or talking to a legal or financial advisor they previously worked with to find out if they had a life insurance policy.
- If you have life insurance coverage, it’s a good idea to talk to your beneficiaries and let them know your policy exists.