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Life insurance pays out a death benefit when a policyholder passes away. It’s important for survivors to know how to find out if someone has life insurance so they can receive the money they are entitled to. This guide explains how to conduct a life insurance policy search.
How to find a life insurance policy
There are a number of techniques for determining how to find out if someone has life insurance. Here are seven of them.
1. Talk to friends
Whether a potential beneficiary is trying to figure out how to find life insurance policies of deceased parents or other loved ones, starting with friends is a good option. Surviving family members can talk to people the deceased was close to. The deceased may have mentioned purchasing life insurance, and a friend can provide that insight to survivors.
2. Consult with financial advisors
If the deceased had any financial advisors or attorneys, they would be a good resource when determining how to find a life insurance policy that exists. Lawyers or financial advisors might have helped the deceased buy insurance. Or they may have provided advice on how much coverage to buy or who to name as a beneficiary.
3. Contact former employers
Often, people get life insurance through work. Some workers may not even be aware this is a group workplace benefit, so even people who are alive may need to ask, how do I know if I have life insurance?
Former employers of the deceased may be able to answer questions about whether life insurance was offered to workers.
4. Check safe deposit boxes
Many people keep important paperwork in safe deposit boxes. If the deceased had one at a local bank or credit union, this is a good place to look. If the paperwork is found in a safe deposit box, this can be helpful to those wondering how to find insurance policy numbers. Finding the policy will provide detailed information about what coverage was in effect.
5. Look through financial paperwork
When figuring out how to find out if someone has life insurance, looking through their financial paperwork is helpful. They may have a copy of the policy or past statements showing they paid premiums.
6. Review bank statements or mail
Mailed letters could provide updates on the life insurance policy. Or reviewing bank statements could show premiums were paid. This can be a helpful approach to conducting a life insurance policy search. If bank statements show checks were sent to an insurer, it’s possible to contact that insurance company.
7. Conduct a search
Sometimes, asking friends or reviewing the deceased person’s papers isn’t a sufficient life insurance policy search. It may not turn up any documentation of a policy. If so, additional steps should be taken to determine how to find out if someone has life insurance.
It is possible to use an online life insurance policy locator to conduct a life insurance policy search. There is a life insurance policy locator on the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Some states also maintain a life insurance database so check with state insurance department officials.
Who can request information about a life insurance policy?
Life insurers must protect their client’s privacy even after someone has passed away. This can make it more difficult when determining how to find out if someone has life insurance.
Still, certain people are able to request a copy of the policy. This generally includes the person who has been named as executor of the deceased’s estate or who has been appointed by the court to manage the deceased person’s affairs. In some cases, the next of kin may also request a copy of a life insurance policy. They will likely need documentation to prove their identity and their relationship to the deceased.
How to find out if you’re a beneficiary?
Insurance companies will contact beneficiaries of life insurance policies. This is one way people can find out if they are a beneficiary if the deceased person did not tell them.
If a potential beneficiary has permission or legal authority to review the deceased person’s financial paperwork or to request a copy of the life insurance policy, this is another way to find out if they are a beneficiary.
How to get a copy of the life insurance policy
Ideally, the deceased person will have kept a copy of financial paperwork including a life insurance policy. If so, this is the easiest way to obtain a copy. Unfortunately, in cases where there is a lost life insurance policy, it’s more complicated.
Contacting the life insurance company can also be appropriate as the company should provide policy documents. However, generally the executor of the estate or a court-appointed guardian will need to contact the insurer to obtain this paperwork.
Reviewing a copy of the policy can provide insight into what does life insurance cover, the amount of the death benefit, and the chosen beneficiaries.
How to file a life insurance claim
To file a life insurance claim:
- Conduct a life insurance policy search to identify policies that are in effect.
- Review life insurance documents to see who has been named as a beneficiary.
- Obtain crucial documents including a death certificate and insurance claim form.
- Contact the insurer and file a claim using the required forms and providing appropriate documentation.
How long does it take to get a life insurance check?
Life insurance payouts generally must be made within 30 days to 60 days of a valid claim. It can take longer for a life insurance policy to pay out if the claim is contested. If a life insurance policy search must be undertaken to discover if the deceased had coverage, this can also take time.
It is illegal to obtain life insurance on a person without their consent. The insured person is generally required to provide a signature when the policy is purchased. If someone forges the signature, that would be insurance fraud. The policy would typically not pay out if the insurer discovered the fraud.
To find unclaimed life insurance policies, conduct a life insurance policy search on the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. State insurance department officials may also maintain a database that can be used for those wondering how to find out if someone has life insurance.
Life insurance policies are not public record. However, there are databases of active insurance policies. Potential beneficiaries can search these databases after someone has died. Conducting a life insurance policy search can help beneficiaries make sure they get paid.
Life insurance companies will generally contact beneficiaries. They will do this if they become aware of the policyholder’s death. Some states require life insurers to check the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to see if any policyholders have passed.
Contacting the insurance company is a good first step to determine if a life insurance policy is still good. The insurer should provide a copy of the policy and coverage details. The insurer should also provide information about cancellation of coverage.
Life insurers are typically required to make an attempt to contact beneficiaries. If a beneficiary cannot be found, the insurer will eventually turn over the money to the state. States maintain a database of unclaimed property residents can search.
If they discover unpaid life insurance proceeds, they can request the money from the state. Potential policyholders can visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators to do a life insurance policy search for policies that may have been paid to the state.