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Ask the Life Insurance Expert

My grandfather recently passed away. How can I find out if he named me on his life insurance policy?

I'm sorry for your loss. To determine if you are named as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, your first step is to find out whether a policy exists and, if one does, to locate the documents or at least find the name of the company that issued the policy.

It's up to family members to notify the insurance company when a policyholder dies; otherwise, the company doesn't know the insured has passed away and cannot make an effort to locate beneficiaries.

To find clues about whether the policy exists, sort through your grandfather's papers and address books, look through checkbooks or canceled checks to see if any checks were written to pay premiums, review income tax returns to look for interest income and expenses, and call the employee benefits office of your grandfather's last and previous place of employment.

Another clue could come in the mail during the year following his death in the form a premium notice for a life insurance policy, or an annual statement regarding the status of the policy.

If you find a policy, contact the insurance company even if you're not sure if it's still in-force. For most inquiries, you'll need a death certificate and documents that prove you're a close relative or beneficiary.

If you think there's a good chance you are a beneficiary but still can't find the policy, you can try the Policy Locator Service from MIB Solutions. If you use this service, your grandfather's name would be matched against approximately 170 million records and would turn up the information if he applied for the policy in 1996 or later.

For more, see how to find out if you're the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.


Last updated: Mar. 24, 2011