Not realising that old insurance policies may be valuable in the future, people and businesses often destroy or misplace these important documents. Individuals must often track down lost or misplace life insurance policies when a loved one passes away unexpectedly and a policy was purchased but cannot be located. Occasionally old policies are also needed to provide proof of coverage for a claim that occurred outside the scope of the current policy. For example, 25 years ago a small business may have dumped its refuse in a local stream or river; now, local residents are getting sick and the cause has been traced back to this company. The company's current insurance policy would not cover the claim, but the policy from 25 years ago may -- if it can be found.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Search through safety deposit boxes, safes, filing cabinets and other places you may have stored valuable documents. If you have old boxes of paperwork in the garage, now would be a good time to sort through and organise them, to help with future searches.
Question any family members or financial advisers about whether they have or have seen a copy of your old policy.
Contact your agent. Most agents keep a record of old policies for 7 to 10 years. If she does not have a copy of your policy, she may be able to provide you with the information needed to contact the old insurance company directly.
Hire an insurance archaeologist. Insurance archaeologists, according to "Insurance Coverage Dispute" by John H. Mathias Jr., John D. Shugrue and Thomas A. Marrinson, can help locate missing policies by "searching, reconstructing and analysing the policyholder's insurance coverage history."
Tips and warnings
- If unable to locate the name of your past agent or insurance company, review old financial records, such as cancelled checks, bank statements and credit card statements, to see who received your premium payments.
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