People buy life insurance at different times in life for different reasons. As the years go by, it's easy to misplace policies and lose track of their value. Permanent insurance policies such as whole life, universal life or variable universal life contracts are policies that have cash values associated with them. As time goes on, the policies' cash value can grow and be tapped into.
Locate all of your insurance contracts. Before you make any changes to any of your insurance policies, take an inventory of all of your contracts. You may even find ones you forgot you had.
Locate the insurance company's information on the policy. You'll need to contact the insurer that issued your policy, so look for the mailing address or phone number. If you can't find this information, try to find the contact information for the agent or broker who sold you the policy and have him get you in touch with the insurer.
Call or write the insurer and ask the company to send you an in-force illustration for the policy. An in-force illustration is an insurance ledger that shows all values associated with a policy. It will show the death benefit, premium and current cash value in the contract.
Find the amount of cash value in the contract for the current year. (Illustrations will show data from when the policy was issued through age 100, so be sure to look at the correct year.) See if there is cash value available.
If the policy is worth something and you no longer need it, cash it in. Contact the insurance company again and ask to surrender the policy for its cash value. The insurer may request you fill out some paperwork, but you should receive a check in the mail a few weeks later.
Only permanent insurance policies can accumulate cash value. If you find an old term insurance policy, it has no value that it can be cashed in for.