Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Policy Lost

As we pointed out last Fall, folks who fail to inform their families about existing life insurance policies do those left behind a grave disservice. For one thing, it gives the government even more ammo to micro-manage people's finances (who do you think pays carriers' compliance costs?). For another, it can cause unnecessary, and easily avoided, anguish.

The Insurance Information Institute has some pretty helpful hints on how to track down Uncle Phil's lost policy (or even just find out if he had one). Some of these are already known to regular IB treaders (checking with the MIB, for instance), but others are new to us:

• Look for insurance-related documents.
Search through files, bank safe deposit boxes, and other storage places to see if there are any insurance-related documents. Also, check address books in case any insurance agents or companies are listed. An agent or company representative who sold the deceased their auto or home insurance may also know about the existence of a life insurance policy.

• Contact previous employers.
Former employers may have a record of past a group policy.

• Check bank books and canceled checks.
See if any checks or automated payments have been made out to life insurance companies over the years.

• Check with the state’s unclaimed property office.
If a life insurance company knows that an insured client has died but cannot find the beneficiary, it must turn the death benefit over as “unclaimed property” to the state in which the policy was bought. If you know where the policy was purchased, you can contact the state comptroller’s department to see if it has any unclaimed money from life insurance policies belonging to the deceased.
Thanks, III!
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