Before your loved one passed away, he may have given you some indication that a life insurance policy existed in his name. Unfortunately, locating this policy can prove to be very difficult if your loved one was not clear about which company issued the policy. The person in charge of administering the estate may have some work ahead with regard to locating the policy.
Understanding the Various Types of Life Insurance Policies
Before you start the process of trying to locate your loved one’s life insurance policy, it is important to understand how life insurance policies generally work. These policies come in many shapes and forms. Typically, however, policies will fall into one of two categories:
- A term life insurance policy. A term policy provides insurance coverage for a stated period of years. A benefit is only paid out if the insured dies within that term.
- A permanent life insurance policy. A permanent policy stays in force as long as the premium continues to be paid. There are various types of permanent life insurance policies, including universal life policies, variable universal life policies, and whole life policies. An important distinction between a term life insurance policy and a permanent life insurance policy is that, even if your loved one had stopped making payments on the permanent policy, it may still have some residual cash value.
In today’s market, there are countless variations and sub-types of insurance policies, but the key difference to be aware of is the difference between a term and a permanent life insurance policy.
Important Tools for Locating a Life Insurance Policy
Regardless of the type of policy you are searching for, there is certain information you may wish to seek out in order to get your search off the ground. The following are three pieces of information you should attempt to uncover:
- Possible insurance companies that may have issued the policy.
- The names of any agents or brokers who may have sold your loved one the policy.
- Whether the policy could have been purchased through an employer, union, or other association.
Having this information can help speed up your search. As you move forward, it is also important to have certain information readily available. This information may include:
- Your loved one’s full legal name, as well as your loved one’s maiden named, if applicable.
- Your loved one’s Social Security number.
- The state in which your loved one lived when he or she purchased the policy.
It is also useful to have several copies of your loved one’s death certificate on hand during this process.
Where to Look for Information About a Life Insurance Policy
Now that you have some starting points, it is helpful to know where to start looking. Naturally, if you have an old copy of the policy itself, this would provide you with most, or all, of the information you need. In many cases, however, estate administrators do not have this information freely at their fingertips. To find important clues in your search, consider the following:
- Look for documents relating to the policy, such as billing statements, that may be found in files, safety deposit boxes, or other storage areas.
- Conduct an online search for insurance companies and agents.
- Contact your loved one’s attorneys, accountants, investment advisors, and other professionals who may have information about the insurance policies.
- Look for applications for other life insurance policies. In many cases, these applications will list pre-existing policies.
- Search bank statements for records of payments to insurance companies.
- Review previous years’ tax returns. If the policy earned interest, it may be listed.
- Consult with your loved one’s homeowner’s or auto insurance agent. In some cases, the same company may have written each policy.
- Contact the state insurance department for guidance.
Although it may take a little detective work; hopefully, with some effort, you will be able to locate your loved one’s insurance policy and proceed with the estate administration process. Finding an insurance policy, however, is just one of many tasks that you may face as the estate administrator. Fortunately, we can help. We encourage you to initiate a live chat today for more information.
- Disputing Life Insurance Beneficiary Designations
- Valuing Life Insurance Policies in Probate
- Life Insurance Policies and Estate Tax
AttorneyThe Grossman Law Firm, APC · 525 B Street, Suite 1500, San Diego, CA 92101 · (951) 523-8307