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Ask the Life Insurance Expert

We cannot find my dad's life insurance policy

This is a tough problem, yet one many beneficiaries have faced.

When you don't know the name of the life insurance company, a good first step is to look for evidence of premium payments by going through copies of canceled checks or credit card statements, which would show the name of the insurer. However, this may be difficult in your case since your father’s mother was making the payments.

Life insurance companies make efforts to contact policyholders after they stop sending premiums, but if no one ever steps forward, they can't pay out the death benefit. If the insurance company knows the person died but can't locate the beneficiaries, it turns the death benefit over to the state as unclaimed property. States maintain databases of beneficiaries who are heirs of lost policyholders. Check with your state to see how to look up whether you are listed. In addition, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators offers a MissingMoney.com Web site that lets you search nationwide for missing money, including life insurance policies that have been deemed unclaimed and transferred to the state.

You can also check out services, such as the Lost Life Insurance Finder Expert. The agent-run service faxes letters to 460 customer service centers at life insurance companies, asking if your deceased relative had any life insurance policies that designated you as the beneficiary. If the insurer finds a policy, the finder service asks the life insurance company to contact you directly to start the claim process.

Learn more about how to find missing life insurance policies.

Last updated: Sep. 24, 2010