If you believe a loved one may have had a life insurance policy you cannot locate, you have two options: first, contact every life insurance company; or, second, pay a service to search for you.
Below is a list below of some of the most popular national life insurance companies and their contact information. Some companies allow you to perform a search on their website for any outstanding policies on an individual. MetLife, for example, will tell you instantly if there any records that may match your search criteria. Other companies, like John Hancock and New York Life, have online inquiry forms that you can fill out to request a search be performed. While performing a company by company search can be time consuming. The upside is that other than consuming your time it is free.
The American Council of Life Insurers offers these additional tips:
- Check your loved one’s papers and address and telephone books to look for life insurance policies and the names of insurance agents. Contact every insurance company with which they may have had a policy, even if you’re not sure the policy is still in force.
- Check with the employee benefits office at their latest and previous places of employment. Or, check with the union welfare office.
- Check bank books and canceled checks for the last few years to see if any checks may have been written to pay life insurance premiums.
- Check the mail for one year after death for premium notices, which usually are sent annually. If a policy has been paid up, there will not be any notice of premium payments due. However, the company may still send an annual notice regarding the status of the policy or it may pay or send notice of a dividend.
- Review your loved one’s income tax returns for the past two years. Look for interest income from and interest expenses paid to life insurance companies. Life insurance companies pay interest on accumulations on permanent policies and charge interest on policy loans.
- Check with the state’s unclaimed property office to see if any unclaimed money from life insurance policies may have been turned over to the state. If, after a number of years, an insurance company holding the unclaimed money cannot find the rightful owner, it turns the money over to the state. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators’ website (www.naupa.org) includes links to each state’s unclaimed property office. For multi-state searches, www.missingmoney.com combines information from most, but not all, state unclaimed property databases.
STATE SPONSORED POLICY FINDER
Another resource could be your state insurance commissioner. To find out if your state’s insurance commissioner has a policy finder program or for a list of life insurance companies licensed to do business in your state, visit the National Association of Insurance Commisioners’s website for state specific links. You’ll want to check every state where the person lived.
PAY FOR SEARCHING
You can also use pay services such as Medical Information Bureau’s (“MIB”) policy locator. MIB’s service costs $75 per search and pulls from a database that reports to collect information from nearly every individual life insurance company in the United States and Canada. However, the database only includes information on life insurance applications processed since January 1, 1996. Find Your Policy permits individuals to register for free and list the companies with which they have life insurance policies. After that person passes away, his or her loved ones can search the database for a fee of $19.95.
LIFE INSURANCE COMPANIES*
Phone: (800) 732-5543
Fax: (617) 572-1571
Address: John Hancock, Post Office Box 772, Boston, Massachusetts 02117
Phone: (800) 638-5000
Phone: (800) 888-2452
Phone: (800) 848-6331
Phone: (800) 778-2255
NEW YORK LIFE
Phone: (212) 576-7000
Address: New York Life Insurance Company, 51 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10010
*Please note this list is not exhaustive and is meant to be a guide only.
Also, over time links change. If you find one is broken, please let my office know.