When someone dies, often the family will want to know how to find their life insurance policies. Unfortunately not only will this take some work and you will never know whether or not you have found all of the life insurance policies. Finding these policies takes some detective work.
You’ve probably already brought the usual suspects in for questioning. You’ve talked with those who are close with the person who died. You’ve looked in the safe deposit boxes, desks, filing cabinets and closets.
You may want to contact the place of business of the person who passed away. Many active workers have life insurance coverage as a part of their benefits package. Some retirement packages also include a death benefit, but this is less common.
You should also take a look at the decedent’s bank records or check register. Since life insurance will usually have monthly or annual payment terms, you should be able to find evidence of most or all policies that are current if you look at the last year or 18 months worth of cancelled checks or statements.
(While you are looking at bank statements, look to see if any health or auto insurance policies were paid for recently. If the insured’s paid for coverage that included a term after his or her demise, the estate may be eligible for a refund of unearned premiums from the company.)
There may be other financial records to look at. If the person who died may have paid for a life insurance policy with cash from a mutual fund or other similar investment, be sure to check those records as well. A pension, annuity or 401k might have been a source of funds for a life insurance policy.
There may however, be other policies that pay a death benefit that are active. Some life insurance policies are single premium policies. Some policies are paid up by design. By default other cash value policies stay in force until the cash value is eaten up by the deductions the company makes for the cost of the insurance. (This is what usually happens when a policy is just forgotten about and never cashed in.)
For this reason, you may want to do more detective work. There may be an older policy that won’t be discovered by looking at recent banking transactions. It may pay to look at older bank statements.
You may also want to check with the family tax professional attorney or CPA who handled financial matters for the decedent. They may be aware of policies purchased or may have made recommendations to buy a given life policy.
You can also ask questions of insurance agents the decedent has worked with. Who handled the car or house insurance? Are there any calendars around the house with an agent’s name and contact information on them? The agent who sold the auto insurance to the person who died may have also sold them a term life insurance policy.
Insurance companies are not supposed to give information to you without proper documentation. If you are not the beneficiary and you cannot prove that the insured died, the company may not be willing to share any information with you. They are not legally allowed to inform you about the death benefit or other date regarding other policies.
Now that you have gotten a taste of how hard it is to take care of all the business that needs to be taken care of after a loved one’s death, you may want to make this process easier for the next generation. So that you make things easier for those you love, be sure to make a list of your list your insurance policies in a place that they will be able to find.
Life insurance isn’t the only type of policy to be concerned about. If you are alive but unable to communicate, you will want them to keep your health and disability insurance active so that you can continue to receive the benefits of those policies. Make it easy for your spouse or child to contact your insurance company and find the information regarding your Life Insurance and other policies.
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