One of the most important things that life insurance policy holders should do is to properly organize and store all documents related to their coverage. Losing a policy can render an insured person’s policy invalid, which means all that money down the drain. The sad thing is, a lot of people face this dilemma. In fact, this problem has led to at least $1 billion worth of unclaimed benefits, according to Consumer Reports. 1 in every 600 policy owners have misplaced (or even forgotten about) these essential documents. You don’t want to become part of the statistics, so start your search as soon as possible with these strategies:
Gather the following pieces of information
To start off, you should gather these details and documents:
Old policy copy
Complete name of the insured individual
Social security number
State where the policy holder purchased the coverage
If you are a beneficiary, you also need to have a copy of the insured person’s death certificate.
Look for clues in personal records
If you can’t find an old copy of the policy or you can’t figure out which state the insured individual purchased it, sift through personal records. You might find clues in safe deposit boxes, files, and other places where important documents are stored. Check bank records and credit card statements as the policy holder may have made payments to the insurance company through these.
Contact close friends and previous employers
Your loved one who made you a beneficiary might have confided with close and trusted friends about the insurance policy. So if you were unable to locate the documents in personal records, seek out their help.
You should also contact previous employers, particularly the employee benefits administrators’ department of the company. It’s possible that the insured purchased additional coverage still in effect.
Check with insurance providers
A lot of life insurance policy holders purchased the coverage from the same company they bought other types of insurance from (health, car, etc.). So contact those the insured had coverage with, since it’s possible one of them issued the life policy. You will also find some insurance companies that have lost-policy finding tools on their sites for products they sold. These finders will just request some basic details about the policy holder and search the database for potential hits. In case your loved one named you the beneficiary, the insurer will contact you for more details. If not, they will still contact you in the event that they found a policy, and let you know that another person is listed as the beneficiary.
Ask help from your state department of insurance
In the midst of the growing amount of unclaimed life insurance benefits, several states have already launched web-based policy finders. Some of these include the following:
These online finders will ask you to enter basic details about the policy holder, such as name, date of birth and death, as well as most recent address. You might also have to supply a copy of the death certificate. If you don’t have it yet, you can also call your state’s department of insurance for help.
Seek out the unclaimed property division of your state
Another good place to find clues relating to a lost life insurance policy is the unclaimed property division of your state. Insurance providers hand over policy proceeds to these departments when they can’t locate the beneficiaries of an insured individual who they know already passed away. Visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website so you can find out who to contact. A lost policy can deal a devastating blow to the people an insured individual will leave behind. But with more and more resources now becoming available, you have higher chances of locating that misplaced policy, so begin your search as soon as possible.