Even the most lighthearted and tactless chatterbox will think twice about discussing some subjects with friends and relatives. For example, it can be difficult to discuss insurance matters when someone is terminally ill or recently deceased. Because of this, family and executors are left scrambling to locate important documents such as life insurance policies. If you suspect one exists, there are some strategies you can use to find it.
Contact the Medical Information Bureau and request a search. The Bureau has records of more than180 million policies underwritten since 1996, and will search its database for a fee. If the issuing company has since been the subject of a merger or acquisition, the MIB can also help identify its current name.
Review the deceased person's financial records, including check stubs and bank or credit card statements. Unless the policy was a fully paid-up whole life product, there should be some record of the premium payments.
Write or phone the deceased person's former employers. Their human resources departments can tell you whether there is any residual group coverage. If the deceased converted group coverage into a private policy, the HR department can also tell you which company would have issued the policy.
Get in touch with any known financial advisers the deceased person might have used. If you don't have names and can't get them from other friends and family, comb through the deceased person's effects and look for business cards, pens, calendars or other promotional items that might provide a lead.
Call the unclaimed-property office in states where a policy might have been purchased. It's usually part of the state's treasury department or comptroller's office. If the insurer is unable to locate a beneficiary, it's required by law to remit the death benefit to the unclaimed-property office.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.