The business of life insurance is serious business and the business of unclaimed life insurance cash is a serious problem. Many people believe that a loved one who has life insurance at the time of their death somehow magically advises the company of their death and the policy is paid. That is obviously not the case. Just because someone had a life insurance policy and died doesn’t mean that their beneficiaries automatically get the money that the deceased wished to leave for them. Somebody who is still living after the insured’s death had better know where to locate that policy and provide it, along with documented proof of the insured’s death, to the insurance company or else insurance proceeds will not be paid out; and right now, today, as you read this, BILLIONS of dollars are waiting to be paid out!
Make no mistake – insurance companies are in the business of paying claims and that’s what they will try to do. But there is a procedure that must be followed and that procedure begins with notification.
Once the legitimacy of a claim has been established, funds will be paid out. If there is a problem with establishing legitimacy, funds will be held until any problems are cleared up. If problems are not cleared up and legitimacy cannot be established, money, which the company doesn’t get to keep but which also won’t go to intended beneficiaries, remains unclaimed… and right now, today, as you read this, BILLIONS of dollars are waiting to be paid!
The procedure must, however, begin with notification.
Now, what might you, the living insured, do to make sure that your insurance proceeds get paid out per your wishes? Well, aside from assuring that all of the pertinent policy information is accurate and up to date, you MUST make sure that beneficiaries know that they are beneficiaries and, ideally, where to Find Lost Life Insurance Policy documents. At the very least, you must make them aware of the company or companies that issued the coverage and policy numbers. Otherwise the payment procedure breaks down and money goes unclaimed. (Also, don’t forget that if someone that you have designated as a beneficiary predeceases you, you need to update your beneficiary designations).
What to Do if You Are a Beneficiary
If you are certain of being a beneficiary or you are an executor of the decedent’s estate but he/she never told you where to find the policy information or even the name of the company, there are things that you can do to find the information that you need.
To start with, if you have any idea of the financial companies that the deceased did business with, make some telephone calls. Ask to speak with someone in the Claims or the Life or Policy Owner Service area. Explain the situation and ask how you may request that they do a search for any coverage that may exist/have existed on your loved one. Or, if you know that the deceased had a financial adviser, definitely call him/her. There is a good chance that he/she will have the information that you are looking for.
Also, because many employees simply go with employer-provided group life insurance, if the decedent was still working at the time of death, check with his/her employer. Or, if he/she was retired and receiving a pension, check with the retirement administrator.
Safe deposit boxes are one of the places where people routinely keep important papers. Don’t overlook this possibility. If these efforts fail you can look into hiring a private investigator who may have resources and legal allowances that you don’t.
If you are a beneficiary, don’t put insurance proceeds… and your loved one’s wishes to provide for survivors… at risk. Talk to your insured loved ones while talk is still possible. The subject is not an easy one to bring up but it is one that must be addressed. Not doing so could frustrate your loved one’s wishes and cost you thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars.