“In the event of my death” or “when I die” are neither of the most comfortable ways to start a conversation. That’s why it’s little surprise that unclaimed insurance money piles up and never sees the light of day. Still, a life insurance payout provides some of the largest single-event cash windfalls a person could ever experience.
There is little wondering why this is so easily overlooked. Even if a person does go through explaining to their potential beneficiaries what to do when it comes time to file a claim, that is likely one of the furthest things from their mind. Also, if the primary beneficiary predeceases the insured, and there is no secondary beneficiary named, there is still a payout. Someone is entitled to that money.
The only problem is, in that case, they probably don’t even know the money exists. So, before moving into figuring out if there is any unclaimed money that you are eligible for, it is important to point out the lessons here:
- If you have a life insurance policy on yourself and want to ensure it pays out to help your family, communicate with them. Ensure they know what to do when you pass and name both secondary and tertiary beneficiaries to get the money to someone you care about no matter the circumstances.
- Speak with your family about what they have in place. These are uncomfortable conversations to start, but they are extremely valuable, so the family knows what to do in all scenarios.
How to look for unclaimed insurance money
There are several steps a person can go through to look for unclaimed insurance money. The first step would be to ask immediate surviving family members and friends. See if anybody remembers your loved one mentioning anything about life insurance or inheritance. It may have been something in passing that others would not pay much attention to.
Next, look through old mail and records. Life insurance bills go out every billing cycle. Billing could occur monthly, quarterly, or annually. One way or the other, they would receive statements about their policy and current standing. Plus, if it were a whole life policy and the bill was still being automatically paid, they should still receive records after their passing.
You should also contact employers and member organizations. Some employers and groups have plans set up through the organization. Participation is usually optional but often inexpensive, and many people take advantage of them.
Personal belongings are an ideal place to find old policy printouts stashed away. These would be ideal to find because you could then see what beneficiaries are named.
Lastly, you can do an online search on the website missingmoney.com. This website is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) and is very easy to use. You can search for any possible unclaimed money by putting in the deceased’s name and the state they lived in.
Getting unclaimed insurance money if you find you’re eligible
To make a claim, you will need to collect a few documents for proof of death and evidence of your relationship to the deceased.
First is the death certificate so the insurance company can be sure of their passing. You will also need the Social Security Number of the deceased and their maiden name (if applicable). To claim the money yourself, you will need identification to prove you are the authorized beneficiary or otherwise establish your relationship to the deceased to legitimize your claim to the funds.
Do you suspect there may be unclaimed money you have a right to? Do you have questions about who you should contact?