Life Insurance Loss

The Oblivious Beneficiary – Do You Have Unclaimed Life Insurance Money?

in Investing by

Editor’s note: We met Surefiy, a life insurance education startup at Finovate 2014 who told us that there is over $1 billion dollars of unclaimed life insurance money from lost or forgotten policies. Given life insurance is an important part of estate planning, we thought it would be nice to host a guest post from their CEO. 

It can be easy to underestimate the amount of important paperwork and documentation that accumulates over a person’s lifetime. But when you lose someone close to you, such as a spouse or parent, and you face the legal, emotional, and financial aftermath of that person’s final affairs, this reality becomes clear.

Important documentation that can often be lost or overlooked is life insurance. People often use life insurance to leave an inheritance for their loved ones, but it is not uncommon for an older person to forget about life insurance policies that they acquired throughout their life.

Life insurance companies are very unlikely to dispense a death benefit unless the beneficiary makes a claim. The occurrence of bereaved people forgetting about their status as beneficiaries to their dearly departed is more common than you might think. Likewise, policyholders often fail to properly communicate to their loved ones the facts of their policy or the steps necessary to claim a death benefit.

Arkansas and Florida are two states that have dealt with substantial unclaimed life insurance issues. In early March, a family from Little Rock was pleasantly surprised to find their names in a local newspaper ad run by an insurance company searching for long-lost beneficiaries. A similar situation has taken place in Florida. However, it is not the norm for insurance companies to seek out beneficiaries. The insurance companies’ actions in Florida and Arkansas were more the result of legal mandates from the state than a sudden desire to part ways with death benefits they were lawfully bound to relinquish. It just goes to show that if you seriously think there’s a policy floating around that you might benefit from, you should take it upon yourself to search for it.

If you have lost a loved one – perhaps a spouse, parent or other close family member – you may be entitled to unclaimed benefits from life insurance you were unaware the deceased had. You could be the beneficiary of a policy right now without realizing it.

However, you’ll need to know where to start looking since life insurance carriers typically do not automatically dispense benefits upon the death of a policyholder. They must be notified and given a copy of the death certificate before the claims process can begin.

How to Find Out if You Have Unclaimed Life Insurance Money

If you think a deceased loved one or parent had some life insurance unbeknownst to you, here are 5 ways to find out:

1) Your File Cabinet – Your first clue will probably be found deep in old paperwork. If you come across any correspondences or old premium notices from Life Insurance Company X, you’re onto something. Call the insurance company. They’ll have to verify your identity and get a copy of the policyholder’s death certificate, but the claims process shouldn’t be much more difficult than that.

2) Online Search Service – There are some web services that specialize in unclaimed money. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Adminstrators (NAUPA) is one such service and NAUPA-endorsed missingmoney.com is another search database resource worth checking out.

3) State Insurance Department – There’s also the option of contacting your state insurance department (insurance is regulated at the state level). They may have some helpful information but don’t be too hopeful. They don’t devote a lot of resources to sorting out unclaimed money issues.

4) Bank Statements – Maybe the file cabinet was a dead end. The bank might have some good information. Do a search for canceled checks to locate past premium payments. Find out which insurance company they were sent to and give them a call.

5) Medical Information Bureau – A final resort for locating a lost life insurance policy is to contact the Medical Information Bureau, Inc. MIB is a consumer reporting agency and storehouse of consumer information collected from health and life insurance entities. For a fee they will conduct a search for a policy that you are looking for.

Keep Communication Lines Open

If you are a policyholder, make sure your beneficiaries know about the benefits to which they are entitled. They need to know what benefits they stand to gain and how they can acquire them through a claims process. If you have lost a loved one, regardless of how long ago, it may be worth your while to investigate the possibility of a death benefit waiting in limbo for you to make a claim; you might be pleasantly surprised.

Were you an oblivious beneficiary? Share with us in the comments if you found any unclaimed life insurance policies or know someone who has.

———

Author: Dustin Yoder is the CEO of Sureify, the unbiased, third-party source for life insurance education online. Sureify is a life insurance education platform where life insurance shoppers can learn about their life insurance options, estimate their coverage needs, compare policy types and walk away with a free, personalized life insurance plan so that they’re equipped to buy with confidence.

Photo: Creative Commons

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66 comments

  1. NOE DAVIS

    what i like to know if i was the beneficiary what was i entitle to because i was young at the time when patricia hernandez simmons die i met patricia when i was young man in my 19 patricia date of birth 5-31-1922 s.s 463-40-4623 and the date of death 12 -12-04 she was 82 years old and i was born 1968 i was 36 when she die . thank you and god bless you all

    Reply
  2. NOE DAVIS

    Thank You i Try To Get Help But the attorney say i took to long what day dont no i was young at the time

    Reply
    • Gabriel Rivas Flores Sr

      Im from Utah… and utah and have 4 inheritance that I’m entitled to have never received anything from unclaimed property of utah … and me and my wife were eligible to receive a life insurance policy… When my father in-law passed away in 1995. We had forgotten about it and now we can’t find it or some one has stolen it… Most likely .. It’s Utah. Working their Magic.. They learned from Joseph Smith.. The founder of the Mormon Church…. we need a witch doctor in this state

      Reply
  3. bellyfat

    For a fee they will conduct a search for a policy that you are looking for.

    Reply
    • NOE DAVIS

      Thank You .

      Reply
    • NOE DAVIS

      That Policy Was Thru Angeles Funeral Home In Corpus Christi Tx Someone Has Handled The Insurance Company Without Me Knowing PS I Did Not Authorise Anyone To Handle This If Anyone Has Handle This It Was To Steal What Dont Belong To Them Thank You And God Bless You All NOE DAVIS

      Reply
    • Ricky

      Who will search for me and how much

      Reply
    • Duane Stephens

      Do the search yourself and keep the fee..!!🤔☺

      Reply
  4. Kat Wood

    Aunt passed away 10 years ago. Son just discovered unclaimed life insurance on his mother. Benefit has been greatly reduced As the company was drawing down the cash values of the forgotten policies to cover the premium payments, even after My Aunt had died. Is this legal? Do deceased folks still owe premiums on unclaimed life insurance? M

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      I am a licensed professional. No, it would not legal for them to continue the premium withdraws, IF they had knowledge of the death (certificate). Without knowledge, the assumption is that the individual is still alive and premiums must continue to be paid or the policy will lapse, due to no payment and you lose everything anyway. Your folks had a form of Whole Life . It’s the worst and most expensive type of life insurance. I recommend Term Life, only, as a result of what you experienced.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        My. Father passed away last nite and my. Grandmom had Life insurance on him and she has Alzheimer’s now so my aunt has power of attorney over everything. And she doesn’t want to pay his funeral cost. Is there any way I can find out who the policy is through and. If my. Name was ever. On it

        Reply
  5. Den Anders

    If an adult child’s parent died but was not active in their life since the age of 2 years old, but worked 28 years at the same place with good benefits, and misspelled the adult child’s name when making reference to them that they have a child to the point that even family members misspelled the name on the obituary, how could the adult child living in another state find out if they are a beneficiary and how

    Reply
  6. Den Anders

    And how can the adult child prove that they are that child especially if the long lost parent purposely misspelled the name to assure that they are not able to collect anything? Also is a young child or an adult child of a deceased parent entitled to any life insurance or any assets belonging to the dead parent only if they are named as a beneficiary? Or are they entitled just because they are the deceased parent’s child? Thank you

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      did you ever get an answer to this ? Just curious , My biological father passed in 2004 and i recently had a DNA done with one of his children came back that i am in fact his child ,,,with that being said i recieved nothing when he passed or ever for that matter ,,,how do you go about getting what yuour entitled to

      Reply
  7. Den Anders

    How do you get a company to tell you if a deceased parent had company paid life insurance through them (pretty sure he did) and if you are one of the beneficiaries or not?

    Reply
  8. Earnest

    His daughter

    Reply
  9. Anonymous

    This is timfaber. And ifound a insurances policey for my mother that she had. And she diedin 2006 but the policey was around 1983or85 but the problem is that it had my name on it. But someone. Crossed out my name. And inever got the money. What do we do

    Reply
  10. Mary D. Allen

    Get a legal aid attorney and find out who crossed out your name. That doesnt sound legal to me. They Can find out who did it and Make them Pay You what was rightfully yours. I know there is a way to do that! It may cost you Something. Good Luck. I am trying to find out about an insurance policy too. For my husband. His Mama had insurance and Someone cashed it in. Without him knowing it too. God Bless You. I pray You GET YOUR MONEY! Sue them for crossing out Your Name too.

    Reply
  11. Sandra

    My father passed away recently. He is survived by his spouse (not my mother) who I am not in good terms with. I am not aware whether he had a life insurance policy. But a relative called me after his death and told me that my father had shared with him that he had purchased a life insurance policy and that my sister and I are the beneficiaries. I would like to validate that. I found out that I could use MIB’s database. However, if he is survived by a spouse, she needs to submit the policy locator search. Me, as his daughter, cannot submit the search. Is there anything else that I can do that does not require her involvement?

    Reply
    • EM

      Did you find anything out on this… I am in the exact same situation now and would love some advise?

      Reply
  12. M.H.

    I need to know where to find my friends will or beneficiary. He left a recording just days before he died Stating that he was leaving all of his estate to me. And stated my full name. What do I do now ?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Is this Melissa Hunt ??????!!!!!!

      Reply
  13. joyce

    My mother was the beneficiary of her sister policy with metopltian years ago ,.my aunt passed away two days before my mother , who is entitled to as the beneficiary. And my aunt was the beneficiary of my mothets policy know policies have been find but this can from my mother years ago. So how can I find out more about this.

    Reply
  14. I am daughter of the Earles family. My grandparents passed away.my real dad passed too.

    It’s ashamed how kids get treated because the parents are not together anymore. You find out your grandparents pass away then your real dad.and they all keep secrets. Will one day the secrets will come out.

    Reply
  15. Brenda Mn

    My brother passed away we have several insurance policys, however one has a beneficiary on it of a lady that we dont know how to contact , the policy was taken out in the 80s ?

    Reply
  16. Grace Wideman

    Father’s name is Walter Pierce pasted away on 03-23-2015.

    Reply
  17. Unknown

    Father just passed and I think he left me a policy how can I find out

    Reply
  18. william joseph gilson

    My father passed way january 11 2016 he said he was leaving me kevin j ames gilson money but family is divided now and doesnt talk want to know if he leccathetft me anything my birth date is november 28, 1975

    Reply
  19. Linda Isaak

    My brother just passed away. His partner of 18 years has tried to get his last paycheck which was direct deposit. They were not married. The company put a freeze on it. His life insurance my bro put his partner as the beneficiary but the company said they can’t find the original paper work. My family wants no part of the money and it should go to his partner. Our parents are deceased and my bro had no kids. Is there something I can do as a sibling to help him get this money?

    Reply
  20. Garrett Buffalocalf

    my father passed away in 2009..he was a hard working man in the 70-80’s even into the 90’s..he passed when he was 64..how do i find out if he has any $..

    Reply
  21. Michael

    My father’s sister told me a couple years ago she was getting emails from my dads bank after he passed away about Unclaimed Money he left with my name on the account as well how do I get that money or see about the account.

    Reply
  22. Ibrahim Mzee Ibrahim

    Sir kindly a m looking for unclaimed funds to claim as a next of kin to share as partners if nobody applies to claim

    Reply
  23. Sandra W. van Joosten

    My ex-husband’s brother just called to tell me my ex (Howard Franklyn McCumber – born July 4th, 1954) passed away on February 11, 2016. He says he believes Frank had a life insurance but cannot find evidence of it. He and I were married on November 22, 1972 and divorced in 1974. We reunited and lived together in 2005 and 2006, then separated again but I recall a conversation with him where he told me he was going to put me on his life insurance policy, taking his other ex-wife off as beneficiary as I was his first and only love. Seems like he mentioned an amount of $450,000 but I maybe wrong. I believe this was a policy that he had paid in full and also seems like it was a military policy as he was in military for 20 years or more. Can you help me?

    Reply
  24. Twauna

    My husband die has a 401k I was not named as a beneficary. But the kifs and girlfriend. Was me to send death certificate. Will the 401k automatically include me

    Reply
  25. Deborah Schenk

    I’m trying to find out what happend to my grandfather’s life insurance. He passed away in 1875 my grandmother rest her soul was nieve when it cane to things like that how do I find out all of his siblings are also deceased.

    Reply
  26. Deborah Schenk

    1975 sorry for the mistaje

    Reply
  27. James t grimley

    My name is James t grimly my grand mother died leaving two life insurance policies to me and brother we were adopted by her polices we paid up when she died I had the copies and lost them at the funeral never have found them van you help.

    Reply
    • Sue

      Did you think of calling the Life Ins Co?

      Reply
      • James t grimley

        Do not remember name of insurance co.

        Reply
      • James t grimley

        Lost name of insurance Co .Her name Fern loeva Grimley from Ponca city Oklahoma died in the 70s

        Reply
  28. Ibrahim Mzee Ibrahim

    Sir kindly I am looking For unclaimed funds to claim as a next of to share as partners if nobody applies to claim

    Reply
  29. Elaine

    My brother passes away and everyone said he had me listed as his Beneficiary. How do I find this money.

    Reply
    • James t grimley

      Need to find policies I had them and lost them years ago life insurance paid in full don’t know name of carrier

      Reply
  30. Kelly Terry

    Ten years after my grandparents died, I was looking through a bank bag of old papers, hoping for something fun or maybe some old photos. I was surprised to find an old insurance policy that had been paid up in the early 1950’s.

    My mom was even more surprised to get several thousand dollars.!

    Go through everything! Better yet, try to do it with your family member and before their health and memory fade.

    Reply
  31. James t grimley

    Have not heard back from you

    Reply
  32. Lucinda cooper

    Well here the deal I know my mother has a life insurance policy but the problem I’m having is that my older brother has it and won’t give us the name of the insurance nor allow us to view the policy so that we could claim our share of the insurance so how would I go about that to get the proper information I need to claim it or find out who holds the policy

    Reply
  33. chyan mitchell

    If I was 14 at the time of my father’s death then his octal security and at benefits would have either been in my mother’s name or my step father’s name. When I turned 18 I never recieved anything, my step father kept it all. There must have been a check that was sent to me when I turned 18 but I never recieved that. What I was told by my mother was that my step father singed it over to him and kept the money rom my father passing away. What can I do about this? That is fraud.

    Reply
  34. Diane collins

    My mom thought mygranmothercollectrdmyfsfsinsurance from detvice but we found a paper showning my dadhad a refundwhere he over paid his service insurance he died in 1959.but hewasin the army and the marines .i was only 4 at his death. I know, my grandmother didn’t get it showed me a letter my dad senttelling her he took it out left to mom to take care of his kids.dont know how to find policy.army said we need policy too many years ago to find records a.plus something about a fire burnt a lot of record.any help accepted

    Reply
  35. Diane collins

    Fathers name waswilliam L. Woodward.Ps any service buddiesdrr this would any stories you have we heard he was a hero.he served in 2 wars.I as 4&ahalf but my mom was pregnant w/brother. Thanks

    Reply
  36. Keith Morley

    my father Kethel Robert Morley on may 28th 2010 he was 79yrs 10mo and3 days old. he resided in corning Ar. and passed away in corning Ar. He was born in mo-ark Ar. on july 25 1930. I know my dad had A insurance policy in my name but I don’t know the company or the policy number. my older sister had power of att. and wont tell me or any of my other 3 sisters any thing. we cant get a copy of his death certificate or any medical records to actually find out why he died without her say so. and she wont let my sisters or myself get any of that. I know my dad had 2 policies and I think my sisters signed my name to the one in my name. corning Ar is a very small town and my sister had a business there for several yrs and it would’ve been very easy for her to have signed it and deposited it in her bank account. some help on this would be very much appreciated. thank you Keith Morley

    Reply
  37. Faye

    My grandmother died around 1997. I remember my mother stated to me that when I was going my grandmother bought insurance on me. We’ll when my grandmother passed away my uncle calls me and states that my grandmother had a small death benefit on me and wanted to know if they could use it to pay for her services. We’ll that was all the info he have me and I cannot find out anything. What is a death insurance?

    Reply
  38. Barbara Rogers

    My mom passed away in April 2016 she had told me there was a life insurance policy left to me. Then got Alzheimer disease. I don’t speak to the family. Don’t know the name of the insurance company. How do I find this out???

    Reply
  39. Samuel Augusta's harris

    Trying to find out did my father leave anything’ that mite Belong to me after he passed

    Reply
  40. Nicole A. Appel

    My father, Theodore R Dobeas, passed way in December 1994. He had a life insurance policy through the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and left me as beneficiary. There was massive paperwork for me to fill out and at the time I was too busy and distraught to complete the paperwork. It was through a company in Connecticut, but I don’t believe it was the Hartford. Is there anyway I can find my life insurance benefits to which I am entitled? This policy is through whatever company the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard was using at the time of his death as the policy was directly through his employer.

    Reply
  41. N Clarke

    Id like to know if anyone knows how to find out if any death benefits were paid upon my son in laws death and were collected leaving my daughter and her two children out of the inheritance. He died in an auto accident and probably had death insurance there as well as private insurance.

    Reply
  42. Linda R

    Before my husband died 11 years ago, he had worked at several places and I think he may have life insurance polices that I don’t know about – with me, or our daughter, as the beneficiary. The companies have since moved and I cannot track them.

    Reply
  43. Nancy riley

    How to go about recieving benefits/income of my deceased husband

    Reply
  44. Donna Cross

    Our mother recently passed away. She worked as a cook for a cafeteria with the Gloucester School system located in Gloucester, MA. Working for the Gloucester school system myself I know that there is a life insurance that you pay into weekly. According to the person in Human Resources the insurance policy is through Assurant insurance. I need to know how to contact the correct office to find out about policy.

    Reply
  45. Tammy

    My father passed 1974,this policy I found was started in 1964 by my father. Only reason I have the policy book or even knew it exist,my mother passed in 2009,And I was giving a box with all my father’s things my mom held onto for me.i am 44 years and I am the only child between my mom and father,he passed 12 days before my 2nd birthday! I just want to know how to go bout investigating this policy and if possible if in fact there is money am I entitled to this?

    Reply
  46. Kim shook

    My mother was the beneficiary of my uncles policy that was taken out in the 50’s or 60’s. my uncle passed way recently but my mother passed away 10 years ago, I do have aunts and uncles stilling living but the beneficiary was never changed from my mother. Who should claim the insurance

    Reply
  47. Renee

    I Live in Arizona. My father passed away and he was a Vietnam Veteran. I dd recieve the Gvt. Life Insurance. But I know he had additional Insurances Mortgage, Vehicle, and Life. The problem is I am having difficulty finding them. I am the ONLY BENEFICIARY. Only chile really is not a great outcome in my situation. It’s lonely and I am having a hard time adjusting. please reply.

    Reply
  48. Jennifer Kelly

    Can someone please tell me how to find my own damn insurance policy. My grandma /mother took out life insurance on me as a child. She passed away and I have no idea who it was through. My aunt will not give me the info and says she doesn’t remember. What do I do please someone help

    Reply
  49. Carlos e orona

    Hi my name is Carlos, my father had a life insurance that he have had me and my little sister on it, for when we turn 18 years of age we can claim it. He had died on April, 22nd of 2014 and when I was 17 years of age (minor) my mom told me that she have had everything set up for when I turned 18 years of age, to not worry about it until I turn 18 years of age. But when I turned 18 years of age she refused to give me any further info about me being a beneficiary on my dads life insurance. Now I’m 20 years of age and my little sister is 18 years of age, shes also not trying to tell my little sister neither. Were just trying to find out what is she hiding from me. And if our dad left us something.

    Reply
  50. Barbara A hardy

    Had papers,sent to my sister to see how much I owed on the loan I made when I was the owner my sister was the owner since 2006 I think year could b wrong they lied to her we were not speaking at the time they said I made loan after loan & they were about to drop me . I Did not I was not the owner paid yearly on loan & paid every time I was sent bill

    Reply
  51. Ethel Thomas

    My husband had a policy he was paying for $300.00. I tried to find it and was told they find the policy but do not not the insurance company. Case 2 my husband was 67 when he passed . His company informed him a few day before he reached 65 his policy dropped to 22, 5000. The paper worked we received did not show this in the past. We had another person to read these documents, There were not anything on them showing this.
    I have a manual and check stud showing otherwise. Total different

    Reply
  52. Betty Morgan

    My grandson committed suicide in March 2017, he was 25. My son had insurance on him through my sons work place. He has had the insurance for about 10 years. They are refusing to pay saying not paying after the age of 25. Do you know of any policy that says will not pay after age 25?

    Reply

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