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How to track unclaimed life insurance

Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com

Life insurance provides valuable financial support to beneficiaries after the policyholder passes away. But you might be surprised to learn that some people aren’t aware they are someone’s life insurance beneficiary. Perhaps a parent or grandparent named you as their beneficiary but never got around to telling you.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an unclaimed life insurance database that makes it easy to check for a lost policy. But with some thorough research, it’s possible to find an unclaimed life insurance policy and get your life insurance check if you’re entitled to one.

What is an unclaimed life insurance policy?

An unclaimed life insurance policy occurs when someone who has life insurance passes away, and their beneficiary does not claim their death benefit. Unclaimed life insurance policies can happen for a few reasons.

The most common reason why life insurance policies go unclaimed is that the beneficiary listed on the policy isn’t aware they are supposed to receive the money. Some life insurance policyholders name a beneficiary but fail to provide their contact information, which means the insurance company can’t track down the beneficiary.

Another reason why life insurance policies don’t get claimed is that the insurance company isn’t made aware the policyholder passed away in the first place. Typically, the beneficiary is responsible for notifying the company of the policyholder’s passing, which initiates the claim process of receiving the death benefit. 

Why should you check for unclaimed life insurance policies?

If you think you might be someone’s life insurance beneficiary, it’s a good idea to search for a lost life insurance policy. It’s possible that you are the beneficiary of someone’s life insurance funds and weren’t notified. Here’s why you should check for unclaimed life insurance policies:

  • You could be entitled to money: The main reason you should check for unclaimed life insurance is that you could be entitled to money. Depending on the policy’s value, you could be entitled to a large amount of money. The money you receive from someone’s life insurance policy, called the death benefit, is tax-free and can be used however you want.
  • The insurance company could be attempting to reach you: When you buy a life insurance policy, you’re legally required to name a beneficiary. However, some people put incomplete or incorrect information. If you’re the beneficiary for someone’s life insurance policy and that person has passed away, the insurance company may be trying to notify you so it can give you the funds.

How to locate unclaimed life insurance policies

Finding an unclaimed life insurance policy can be difficult. There are dozens of life insurance companies on the market, and currently, there isn’t a database that houses information about every life insurance policy in effect. Searching for unclaimed life insurance policies is time-consuming, but it’s worth it if you find unclaimed money. 

If you’re wondering how to find a life insurance policy, here are some ways you can look for unclaimed life insurance funds:

Look for policy documents

First, look through the person’s insurance policy documents and see if you can find anything about a life insurance policy. This information could be kept in a safe box or file cabinet, but it could also be lying around. If you can’t find any information about a life insurance policy, call the deceased’s home or auto insurance company and see if it has any information on file.

Contact financial advisors and past employers

It’s possible that the person had group life insurance through a past employer. Call the HR department and see if they have any information about a life insurance policy. You can also contact financial advisors, attorneys, accountants or other financial professionals who may have information about the person’s life insurance.

Review tax returns

Another place to look for evidence of a life insurance policy is on the deceased’s income tax returns from recent years. Life insurance companies pay interest on permanent policies with cash value and charge interest on policy loans. If the person’s tax returns reflect this, it’s likely they had an active life insurance policy.

Ask the state insurance department

Some state insurance departments will help you find a lost life insurance policy. Currently, 29 states offer this as a free service. Start by using the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Life Insurance Policy Locator to find a department official who can help you search for the unclaimed policy.

Use the MIB database

If the deceased ever applied for a life insurance policy, it will be recorded in the MIB database. However, this catalog only contains processed applications after January 1, 1996, so any information before that isn’t available. MIB charges a fee to search, but it’s a good last resort option if you’re not having luck with other methods.

How to prevent losing a life insurance policy

If you’ve ever tried searching for a lost life insurance policy, you know that it can cause a major headache. Fortunately, it’s easy to prevent unclaimed life insurance policies.

If you have a life insurance policy, make sure your beneficiaries know. Keep relevant details in a safe place, like your insurance company’s name and your policy number so it’s easily accessible. Every year, review your policy documents to ensure that your beneficiaries are up to date and their contact information is accurate.

Also ask your family members if they have life insurance. If so, find out who their beneficiaries are, which life insurance company they use and get a copy of their policy documents. That way, there are no obstacles when it comes time to file a claim.

What to do if the insurance company changes

In some cases, insurance companies change names or merge with another provider. If you find unclaimed life insurance and the company no longer exists, it doesn’t mean you’re too late. Contact the state commissioner’s office where you live and explain the situation. It can help you figure out who to contact about the life insurance policy and how to file a claim with the new company.

The takeaway

  • Many people are entitled to unclaimed life insurance money without knowing it.
  • There’s no database for unclaimed life insurance, so searching for a policy is often difficult.
  • Communicating with family members about their life insurance is the best way to avoid lost policies.

Searching for an unclaimed life insurance policy isn’t easy, but it is possible. Following the steps outlined above is the best way to find a lost policy. Make sure you and your family members communicate about your life insurance coverage to ensure that future policies don’t get lost.

Elizabeth Rivelli

Elizabeth is an insurance writer for coverage.com, where she covers insurance providers and reviews policies to help consumers find comprehensive and affordable coverage for every area of their life. She has more than three years of writing experience for top online insurance and finance publications.

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