As a probate paralegal, I often assist personal representatives, trustees and family members in collecting information about their loved one’s assets. Life insurance proceeds can be a blessing to the family to pay for expenses and in relieving the financial burden after a death. However, while the client may think they remember the deceased person having life insurance, they may not be able to locate any existing policies or have access to related documents. In addition, the life insurance company may have changed names or merged, many times more than once, since the policy was issued. If the policy was paid up, no correspondence may have been sent to the insured for literally decades. A non-family member or professional fiduciary may not have any information about insurance at all.
In 2016, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) created the Life Insurance Policy Locator to help address the growing problem of millions of dollars in unclaimed life insurance proceeds. The Life Insurance Policy Locator along with Frequently Asked Questions can be found here: https://eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator/#/welcome
The client should continue to review the deceased’s important papers, research bank accounts for evidence of premium payments, and search online to find successor companies for old policies. But when specific information cannot be located, this resource could potentially find those lost benefits for the family. The requestor should need to be a person authorized to received information (note that the Attorney or Legal Representative for the Deceased is an option on the NAIC request) and will need to provide pertinent details about the deceased. According to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, more than $92.5 million in life insurance proceeds was matched with beneficiaries in just the first year of the locator.
I have not yet used the Life Insurance Policy Locator, but I am thankful to have a resource to provide to those clients where that illusive policy just cannot be located.