Life Insurance Policy -How to Find Out if a Deceased Loved One Had a Policy

Closeup of life insurance policy form

If someone who held a life insurance policy at the time of their death passes away, their beneficiaries should receive a death benefit from the insurance company. However, the insurer may not be aware of the policy holder’s death, so it is up to the beneficiaries to file a claim. It is even more critical to find the policy and file a claim as soon as possible if the deceased held a final expense policy intended to cover funeral costs and medical bills.

If you know the name of the insurance company, contact them directly to get the policy on file. You will need a copy of the death certificate and proof of identity. The company may request further documentation.

It is common to be unaware of the life insurance policies held by your loved ones or that you are a beneficiary. Consumer Reports estimates that “at least $1 billion in benefits from misplaced or forgotten life insurance policies are waiting to be claimed by their owners.” If you suspect that you are the beneficiary of a policy or that your loved one had a policy but don’t know the insurer’s name, there are ways to find out.

The more information you have about the policyholder, the better. You should have the deceased’s birth and death dates, Social Security number, and last state of residence before you start searching.

Here are some ways to find out if the deceased had a policy:

  1. Check for a paper trail: Look through filing cabinets and desk drawers for a will or any other important document that may contain information about life insurance policies and beneficiaries. Check if the deceased had a safe or a safe deposit box, and check financial records and mail for any policy-related paperwork. Look through tax returns and probate records if the deceased’s estate has been probated.
  2. Contact financial professionals: Check if the deceased had an attorney, accountant, or financial advisor, and if so, contact them. They may know if a life insurance policy exists.
  3. Contact employers or member organizations: Check if the deceased purchased a life insurance policy or group life coverage through work or other organizations.
  4. Check for a digital trail: Search through the deceased’s electronic devices, email, folders, hard drive, and cloud storage services. Contact the state insurance department or use paid search services to help locate a missing policy. There are also free online search services available.

If you have a life insurance or final expense policy, make sure your beneficiaries are aware of it, know where you keep it, and keep it in a safe, accessible place. Review the policy at regular intervals to make sure it reflects life changes and is up-to-date. Be sure to subscribe to our free Thinking Ahead email series to learn more about putting your affairs in order. However, beware of scammers who may offer to help you find your unclaimed property for an upfront fee.