How Do I Find Details of Life Insurance?


In an ideal world, life insurance policyholders keep organized records and communicate openly with their loved ones about their plans. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

Search through your loved one’s papers and computer files for documents indicating life insurance policies. Review their financial contacts, including former employers, accountants, and financial advisors. Check their tax returns for interest income on life insurance accumulations and expenses paid to the company.

Find a Policy

Many take out life insurance policies to fund burial and other final expenses. However, some policies can also pay beneficiaries money while they’re still alive through cash value and accelerated benefits. Survivors must know whether a deceased loved one had such a policy and how to find the details if necessary.

Check your loved one’s paper and digital files, bank safe deposit boxes, and other storage areas for evidence of life insurance policies. The deceased’s financial planner, accountant, lawyer, or insurance agent may have information on existing policies. People often bundle their home and auto insurance with their life insurance, meaning there’s a good chance the same insurer holds both policies. In addition, look through tax returns for clues to life insurance policies. Many life insurance companies will report interest income on accumulations and policy loans on the tax return.

Suppose you’ve exhausted your search and are sure your loved one had a policy. In that case, the best option is to use the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Life Insurance Policy Locator Service. This free tool asks participating insurers nationwide to search for a policy in your loved one’s name. The search is simple and quick if you can supply the policyholder’s legal first and last name, date of death, and Social Security number.

Contact the Insurer

In an ideal world, your loved ones would keep well-organized records and communicate clearly about their life insurance policies. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and if your deceased family member had an unclaimed policy, you might be unsure of how to proceed.

The good news is that, while it might be emotionally challenging to sift through paperwork after the death of a close relative, there are ways you can track down a life insurance policy that may provide benefits for your family.

First, review the deceased’s documents and financial records to see if they mentioned their life insurance policy in any way. Look through their filing cabinet, safe deposit box, and other locations they may have used to store essential documents. In addition, check bank statements to see if there are premium payments for term life insurance or indications that they tapped into the cash value of a permanent policy, such as withdrawals or transfers.

It’s also worth checking with the deceased’s employer or previous employers, as their employees may have a record of life insurance coverage (individual or group). If you find any documentation of a lost policy, you can contact the insurer directly to ask about it. If the insurer has changed names or been acquired since the original purchase, you might need a quick Google search or contact your state’s insurance department for more information.

Contact Your State’s Department of Insurance

Your policy’s declaration page (sometimes called the “policy specifications” or “policy definitions”) is the place to find all the nitty-gritty details of your coverage. It’s also where you will find any riders or endorsements you may have added to your policy at additional cost.

In addition to the specifics of your coverage, you’ll see information such as your premium payments, policy number, and effective date. The latter is when your policy becomes active and in force; it’s also when your beneficiaries will receive your death benefit payout.

The beneficiary can be one person or multiple people who may or may not be related to you. If you are buying life insurance for someone else, the insurer will require that you have an insurable interest in that person to approve a policy.

Generally speaking, the insured’s death would create a financial loss for the other person or persons named beneficiaries in the policy. Life insurance is most often purchased for children to cover costs such as college tuition and funeral expenses or for adults who own property together so that the death of one of the spouses does not leave the other struggling with loan payments and upkeep fees.

Finally, the insurer is the company that underwrites your policy; they are the ones who will pay any claims and handle any disputes you might have about your coverage. Unlike some third-party complaint sites, your state’s Department of Insurance will be able to help you get a resolution to any problems you might have with an insurer.

Contact the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators is a government-funded, private nonprofit that provides a searchable database for property from all 50 states and several Canadian provinces. The site is free to use, and new properties are added daily.

Life insurance is a contract between the policyholder and the insurer in which the insurer promises to pay a sum upon death or after a set period. The premiums for this type of insurance are paid regularly throughout the contract term, usually several years, and the death or maturity benefit is provided at the end of the term.

The person who owns the policy is called the policyholder, and they are the only one who can make policy changes or add beneficiaries. The insured is the person whose death would trigger the death benefits payout, and they can be different from the policyholder. If the insured is a child or senior, a parent can often buy a moderate-sized policy on their behalf.

When a person applies for life insurance, they must show that they have an insurable interest. This means that they have a financial connection to the person who is being insured, such as if that person’s income would be lost upon their death. If they cannot demonstrate this, the insurer will decline their application.