Unclaimed life insurance money is serious business. But not in the way that most people are led to believe. Just because someone had a life insurance policy and died doesn’t mean that their beneficiaries automatically get the money that the deceased wished to leave them. Somebody who is still living after the insured’s death had better know where to find that policy and documented proof of the insured’s death, or else there might be serious trouble with getting the claim paid by the life insurance company.
Make no mistake–companies are in business to pay claims and that’s what they will try to do. But they aren’t in the business of being taken for fools. An investigation will ensue when a death claim and insurance payout claim are made to them, and if they can’t clearly see the evidence of the legitimate claim being made then there might be some unclaimed life insurance money–which the company won’t necessarily get to keep, but which also won’t necessarily go the beneficiaries. This is really a matter of making sure that the right people justifiably get the right amount of money.
Now, what might you, the insured living, do to make sure that your death benefit money that you’ve paid for goes to the right people at the right time in the event of your death?
Make sure that you update your mailing address with your employer and your company if you move.Someone in your family, or perhaps your best friend, needs to know that your life insurance policy exists and they need to know the places to look for it if you die.If you have a will, the life insurance policy needs to be mentioned in there.If one of your current beneficiaries dies, you need to update your policy with your insurance agent.
If the insured dies and the life insurance company isn’t notified, but it notices that the premium payments suddenly end, there are certain actions that it will take.
A letter about the problem of no premiums will be mailed to the insured’s address.If there’s no response to the letter, telephone calls or agent visits will ensue.If the insurance company finds out about the death, it then makes all efforts to find the beneficiaries. NOTE: If the insurance company cannot secure positive evidence that the death actually happened, the company keeps the money.If after three to five years (depending on state law) no beneficiary claims the money, it will be released into state government custody, where it can still be claimed.
If you’re certain of being a beneficiary or you’re an executor of the dead person’s will but he never told you where to find the policy information or even the name of the company, the life insurance money can still be successfully claimed if the right actions are taken. Remember, insurance is not the least bit sexy. People tend to get their policy, file it somewhere, and then forget all about where they put that dull little booklet; they just make the payments on it every month or period. You’ll have to do some sleuthing in certain key places.
To start with, if you have any idea of the financial companies that the deceased did business with, make some telephone calls. One of them might be the one and if they are they might be trying to hunt down beneficiaries already. If you know that the deceased had a financial adviser, definitely call him–he probably knows all about the life insurance policies.
Many people simply go with employer-paid or provided group life insurance. So this could be a great lead for you to call or visit if you are trying to hunt down possible life insurance coverage on the deceased.Safe deposit boxes are one of the places where people routinely house life insurance policies–and especially if they had a large life insurance policy.If all else fails, look into hiring a private investigator, who has resources and legal allowances that you don’t.
So don’t let claim money become mere unclaimed freight. Try to locate policies and beneficiaries if you have the slightest inkling that they might exist.