Joe R. emailed us wanting to know about finding a lost life insurance policy.
“When I was a preschooler in Indiana, my parents bought individual life insurance policies for my two brothers and me. I think the policies had annual premiums that were paid for a specific number of years as required by the company. I do not know where the paper copies of the policies are, nor do I know the company that issued them. One brother has since passed away. How do I go about finding policies that were issued over 60 years ago? Thank you. –Ben R.”
Locating information from that long ago with so little to go on can certainly be a tedious task. It may turn into a bit of a wild goose chase, but hopefully, it won’t be too difficult for you. There are a few ways of finding old life insurance policies.
1. Your Parents’ Old Files
In case it wasn’t obvious, I suggest going through any old documents that your parents have or left behind. This includes:
- Random paper files (we all have them!)
- Tax information
- Bank statements
These can all contain clues about life insurance policies your parents may have owned.
However, even if you don’t find the exact policy you may find evidence of other insurance policies that your parents had. This may be helpful because your parents may have purchased the life insurance policies through the same company. You can contact the insurers and ask.
2. Financial Institutions And Professionals
If you can’t find any evidence of the policies in your parents’ files, try talking to any financial professionals or institutions that your parents may have worked with over the years.
If your parents worked with a financial planner, accountant, or estate attorney, then they may have a record of the policies or additional information beyond what you have that may help you get a little closer to finding them.
3. NAIC Life Insurance Policy Locator
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides a policy locator service. You can submit a request for help there, and they will contact participating insurers asking them if they have a record of any such policies.
You’ll need personal identifying information about your parents including their Social Security numbers. For your brother’s policies, you’ll need their info as well.
If a policy is found, the insurers may contact beneficiaries to let them know.
4. Your State Insurance Department
Each state has its own insurance department. Some have their own policy location services.
Try contacting the state insurance department for the state you lived in when the policy was issued, or the state from which your parents purchased the policies.
5. Unclaimed Property Search
In the deceased brother’s case, the payout may be in a state’s unclaimed property database. If the insurer couldn’t locate a policy owner to pay the proceeds to, it may have ended up there. You can try searching the database for your name, your brothers’ names, and your parents’ names to see if anything turns up.
Keeping It Straight
Of course, this next piece doesn’t help you now, but for the next reader, this discussion highlights the importance of estate planning. We often think that estate planning is only for the wealthy, but estate planning includes things like keeping your records straight so your heirs know what you have, where it is, and how to get it.
Even if the information is in your head, write it down somewhere in case something happens to you. It’s much easier to keep track of a policy than to find one after it’s been lost for decades.
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