Wednesday, November 03, 2010

LOST (Insurance, not the TV show)

"Grandpa has passed away, less than 2 years after he lost his beloved wife of 50 years. We kids were told he had insurance, but darned if we can find any trace of it around here. We’ve looked in all the drawers and closets, rifled his desk, and looked through his checkbook, but so far: nada. Is there some kind of central clearing house with this kind of information?"

We see this kind of post at a consumer-driven bulletin board we frequent. It's an all too common occurence: someone knows there's an insurance policy, somewhere, but can find no trace. Unlike cash, which is often held by the state after it's abandoned, and can be reclaimed fairly easily, there's no "central warehouse" of insurance policies.

Which is not to say that all hope is lost. As FoIB Jeff M reminds us, that unique agency called the MIB can be a powerful friend:

"The Policy Locator Service may allow you to discover life insurance policies that you did not know existed ... Our extensive historical archives can trace the mergers and acquisitions of many life insurance companies, thereby revealing the identity of the successor life insurer."

That last is important: companies come and go, but rarely cease to exist altogether. As we learned with the tale of Pilgrim Life, they can change hands over time, but the policies don't necessarily go away. At less than $100 a search, this could be a real bargain.
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