Locate your Lost Life Insurance Policy

How can I locate a lost life insurance policy? 
If a family member dies and you are unable to locate his or her life insurance policies, there is, unfortunately, no national or statewide database of all life insurance policies that you can consult. However, you can try to determine:

which agent or broker might have sold or serviced the policy

whether the deceased might have had insurance through an employer, union or trade association, or other group to which he/she belonged.
Here are some strategies that might turn up useful information:

Look for insurance-related documents.
Search through files, bank safe deposit boxes, and other storage places to see if there are any insurance-related documents. Also, look through address books to see if the names of any insurance agents or companies are listed. An agent or company who sold the deceased their auto or home insurance may know about the existence of a life insurance policy.

Contact current and prior financial advisors.
Contact current or prior attorneys, accountants, investment advisors, bankers, business insurance agents/brokers and others who might have known about the deceased’s life insurance.

Review life insurance applications.
The application for each policy is attached to that policy. So if you can find any of the deceased’s life insurance policies, look at the applications for them. The application will have a list of all other life insurance policies owned at the time of the application. 

Contact previous employers.
Former employers may have a record of a past group policy or policies.

Check bank books and canceled checks.
See if any checks have been made out to life insurance companies over the years.

Check the mail for a year following the death of the policyholder.
Look for premium notices or dividend notices. If a policy has been paid up, there will no 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 the deceased’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. 

Contact all relevant state insurance departments.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a “Life Insurance Company Location System” to help you find state insurance department personnel who might help identify companies that might have written life insurance on the deceased. To access that service, click here.

Check with the state's unclaimed property office.
If a life insurance company knows that an insured client has died but can’t find the beneficiary, it must turn the death benefit over to the state in which the policy was bought as “unclaimed property.” If you know (or can guess) where the policy was bought, you can contact the state comptroller’s department to see if it has any unclaimed money from life insurance policies belonging to the deceased. 

Contact a private service that will search for “lost life insurance.”
Several private companies will, for a fee, contact insurance companies for you to find out if the deceased was insured. This service is often provided through their Web sites.

Do you think the life insurance might have been bought in Canada? 
If so, you might contact the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (phone: 1-800-268-8099; Web site: www.clhia.ca).

Try the MIB database.
There is a database of all applications for individual life insurance that were processed during the last 12 years. There is a $75 charge per search. Many searches are not successful: a random sample of searches found only 1 match in every 4 tries. For information, click here.

NOTE: Portions of the above information have been graciously provided by The Insurance Information Institute at www.iii.org/individuals Things to consider when buying a health policy...

How affordable is the cost of care?

What is the monthly premium I will have to pay?

Should I try to insure most of my medical expenses or just the large ones?

What deductibles will I have to pay out-of-pocket before insurance starts to reimburse me?

After I’ve met my deductible, what percentage of my medical expenses are reimbursed?

How much less am I reimbursed if I use doctors outside the insurance company’s network?

Does the insurance plan cover the services I am likely to use?

Are the doctors, hospitals, laboratories and other medical providers that I use in the insurance company’s network?

If I want to use a doctor outside the network, will the plan permit it?

How easily can I change primary-care physicians if I want to?

Do I need to get permission before I see a medical specialist?

What are the procedures for getting care and being reimbursed in an emergency situation, both at home or out of town?

If I have a preexisting medical condition, will the plan cover it?

If I have a chronic condition such as asthma, cancer, AIDS or alcoholism, how will the plan treat it?

Are the prescription medicines that I use covered by the plan?

Does the plan reimburse alternative medical therapies such as acupuncture or chiropractic treatment? 

Does the plan cover the costs of delivering a baby?

What is the quality of the insurance plan I’m looking at?

How have independent government and non-government organizations rated the plan?

For example, the National Committee for Quality Assurance ( http://www.ncqa.org ) issues a Consumer Assessment of Health Plans (CAHPS) report for every medical plan and facility.

What kind of accreditation has the plan received from groups such as NCQA or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) ( http://www.jcaho.org )? 

How many patient complaints were filed against the plan last year and how many were upheld by state regulatory agencies like the state insurance commission or the state medical licensing board? 

How many members drop out of the plan each year? State insurance departments keep track of “disenrollment rates.”

Do the doctors, pharmacies and other services in the plans offer convenient times and locations? 

Does the plan pay for preventive health care such as diet and exercise advice, immunizations and health screenings?

What do my friends and colleagues say about their experiences with the plan?

What does my doctor say about his or her experience with the plan?

NOTE: Portions of the above information have been graciously provided by The Insurance Information Institute at www.iii.org/individuals