How to find lost insurance policies

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Anyone who has a Mother, Father, Grand Mother, Grand Father, Great Aunt, Great Uncle, Sister or Brother is going to want to read this section. That means it relates to you and everyone you know.

If you cannot find the life policies or determine if there were life insurance policies on a deceased relative “today” can beneficiaries collect the death benefit “in the future?” The answer is YES! The insurance company will hold the policy as an asset until it lapses or until the policy exceeds a person’s life expectancy and then it is abandonded to (escheates) the State.

First a reality check.

1. Are you the beneficiary and/or do you have a right to discuss the policy status with the Insurance   Company?

2. Was the premium paid and the policy in force at the time of death?

3. How much money is the policy “probably” worth?

4. How can you determine if there was a policy and how do find a lost policy?

The following parties have the right to discuss certain aspects of the policy with the insurance company only to the extent they are an interested party; they are an executor or administrator of the estate, Trustee of the associated policy or the owner (if the decedent did not own the policy). Insurance companies will discuss the beneficiary’s interest of the subject policy BUT NO OTHER beneficiary’s interest will be revealed. Any inquiry by any individual to any insurance company about a SPECIFIC POLICY will yield an answer that there is a policy on record and the status is undisclosed. Now your peregrinations begin.

If the policy premium was “current” at the time of death you have a valid claim. Unless someone dies suddenly they generally stop paying their life insurance premiums a few years before they die because, much like Odesyus, their life spirals into chaos as they succumb to their frailties. Policies lapse 30-45 days after the last premium due date. If there was a “waiver of premium” rider on the policy and you can prove the decedent was disabled according to the terms of the policy at the time of death then you may have a chance to reopen a closed claim.

If the policy in question was a “term” policy you’ll be entitled to benefits if the person died before the next premium was due. If the policy “expired” before the insured died then you have no claim. If the policy was a “permanent” policy (whole life or universal life) and the insured died after they missed a premium payment, the policy “lapsed”; you may still be entitled to claim the death benefit!  Lapsed permanent policies revert to one of two standard “non- forfeiture” provisions as required by the Department of Insurance. The remaining cash value will be used to purchase:

  1. a “reduced death benefit paid up” policy
  2. an extended term policy of the same death benefit of the original policy however the policy will remain effective for a limited number of days (weeks, months, years) then expires worthless.

Obviously if the insured dies and then stops paying premiums the beneficiaries claim the full benefit. Whenever the date of death is established the proceeds, retroactively, accrue 1-2% interest until the benefits are claimed or abandoned.


How much money are we probably looking for?

People (like you and me) buy Life Insurance because they love someone or they owe somebody money (like you and me.) That’s probably why you came to my site in the first place. If you are looking for policies written in the 1950’s then you need to understand that the man of the house earned between $5,000 and $7,800 per year. A $100,000 policy was very rare. An abandoned $10,000 death claim accruing interest at 2% from 1950 would total less than $30,000 by 2011. However; if your family is of gentry there may be larger abandoned policies indemnifying Estate taxes, Loans, buy-sell agreements, key-man or business partner, deferred compensation or pension benefits.

How Do you find lost policies?



ASK old business partners about any funded “buy-sell agreements”, Pension Benefits that may have been insured or Deferred Compensation plans that were pushed “frozen”. If the company had a line of credit then ask the loan officer at the branches where the commercial loans were administered.

CALL the decedent’s financial advisor, life insurance agent, accountant(s),attorney(s) and PAST & PRESENT Employers.

LOOK in safe deposit boxes, storage records and financial folders for evidence of checks, credit card or pay stubs which may indicate charges for insured benefits.

CHECK the computer hard drive for evidence of Life Insurance BIDS from people like “” !


CONTACT the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INSURANCE COMISSIONERS (NAIC) and use the “LIFE INSRANCE COMPANY LOCATOR SYSTEM” to help you find people in the Department who can help you.

CONTACT the MEDICAL INFORMATION BUREAU (MIB). They have records on all applicants since 1986. MIB’s policy locator service costs $75 and will expose ONLY the fact that a policy was “applied for” but NO details or code will be revealed.

CONTACT any Insurance Company Customer Service department by certified mail with as much information as you can distill such as driver license number, Social Security number, date of birth, ADDRESS at time of application, interim addresses and last known address.

CONTACT your STATE for abandoned property. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of UNCLAIMED PROPERTY ADMINISTRATION “” with whom you can conduct a free search for ALL unclaimed property (Estcheates) that  has been abandoned to the State.

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Property of Jim Cavallo “” 800-472-5367.