There are at least one billion life insurance policy benefits that are either misplaced or forgotten and waiting on being claimed by their beneficiaries. It is said that the average unclaimed life insurance policy is around $2,000. The reason that there are so many unpaid or unclaimed life insurance policies is because of the quiet "death benefit dodge". Many states looking into the matter have concluded that life insurance companies were using the Social Security Death Master File to find those people due annuity payments so that they were able to stop making payments to them. However, they have been failing to find the deceased policyholders to pay their beneficiaries.
An even worse finding showed that after premium payments ceased after a policyholder died, the insurers often used the cash value of the policy to continue making payments until the cash was gone. This lead to insurance policies being paid out to unofficial policy holders. Many major insurance carriers have began to search more carefully for beneficiaries and dead policyholders. All other life insurance companies are under investigation to do the same.
Searching For Lost Life Insurance Policies
There are many ways to begin searching for an unclaimed life insurance policy if you believe you are a beneficiary to one. Below are some steps to take in order to get your search started.
Start Simple- If you are searching to find an unclaimed policy from an immediate family member that died more than a few years ago, there is a good chance that the benefits have already been turned over to the state where the benefits were purchased. You can contact the unclaimed property office in that state to do a search using your family member's name. Depending on the state, you will have to provide proper documentation to prove you are the beneficiary to the policy including a death certificate of the family member who passed away.
Contact The Insurance Company- If you think you know the specific company that the life insurance policy was bought through, then your best chance at getting your beneficiary benefits would be to contact the company directly. Not everyone will have the legality to get the answers they want from the insurer. However, the executor of the deaceased and immediate family members will have the best luck in getting information. If the insurer thinks you may be entitled to the benefits, they will send you a packet to fill out that will verify your identity. The more information you have, the better your chances are that you will get the insurance benefits you are entitled to.
Search Personal Records- If you are the beneficiary and were a close relative of the deceased person, you may be able to search his or her belongings for policy information. You can also contact their place of employment, labor union or the fraternal order to check for possible policies that are current. Another place that many people keep their important papers is in a lock box at a bank or the post office. Additionally, check any mail, email, online banking or other bill paying service you have access to for any information you are able to find about life insurance policies or dividends.
Beware Of Scams- Anywhere there is money to be made you will find people trying to scam others out of money. Even though the state departments are now working harder to find beneficiaries to receive the policy benefits, there are also many bad guys out there trying to do the same. Many bogus groups are routinely offering to help reunite consumers with all kinds of unclaimed property and funds. They typically scam the consumers by asking for up-front fees for the service and then never complete it. A real, reputable service will never ask for any money, especially money paid before rendering any services. However, there are some reputable private companies that do look for unclaimed money and assets and find the beneficiaries. They will generally charge a fee for finding the unclaimed money for the consumer. If you get a random call from an "insurer", never respond back to them with the information they provide. Always look up the company on the internet and find the phone number or web address that way before contacting them back.
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