It happens all the time: A relative passes away and nobody seems to know whether he had life insurance. If you've already grilled family members, read the will and checked the safe-deposit boxes, and you still haven't found any policy paperwork, you'll need to take other measures. This probably will be a time-consuming process, but it is easier if you are the beneficiary of the policy.
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Ask the relative's accountant or financial planner. One of these should know about any insurance policies. Also, contact the person's employer to find out if he had group life insurance. If you are the decedent's next of kin or the executor of the will, you can contact them directly. If you are not, you'll need to contact the accountant, banking institution or financial planner through the executor or legal next of kin.
Contact the insurance companies with whom the decedent had other types of insurance, such as auto, property or medical. The relative might have purchased life insurance from one of these companies. You can also try the decedent's bank. Many banks now offer life insurance policies through an affiliate institution. You don't need to be the next of kin or executor to contact the insurance companies, but you should be the policy beneficiary.
Look for a paper trail to find premium payments. Look through cancelled checks or the insured person's checking and savings account registers or statements for payments to insurance companies. Also check old credit card statements.
Request a records search through MIB Group's Policy Locator Service. If the insured person purchased the policy within the last 12 years, MIB Group should have records showing the insurance application. There is a fee for the records search. Visit MIB's policy locator page: http://www.mibsolutions.com/lost-life-insurance/.>
Check your state's unclaimed property database, if the death occurred more than one year ago. In some cases, an insurance company will turn the death benefit money over to the state as unclaimed property when the insurer knows that the insured person has died but cannot locate the beneficiary.
Tips and warnings
- Remember that insurance companies usually have no way of knowing when a policyholder has passed away, so you must notify the insurer and provide a certified death certificate after the insured person dies.
- After you've located the policy, find out if the policy was a term or whole life insurance policy. If it was a term life insurance policy, check to see if the insured person died before the term ended. The beneficiary won't receive the death benefit if the insured person passed away after the term ended.
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