Lost policies can be a huge problem for beneficiaries of a life insurance policy. The obvious reason is that once the insured passes away, it’s a little difficult to just ask where the policy is. More often than not, the beneficiary isn’t even aware that a policy existed in the first place. Another problem arises when the policy has been located, but apparently the life insurance company no longer exists. Today, we’re going to cover what can be done to locate a lost company in the event you have found a policy, but can’t seem to find information on the actual company that issued the policy.
The problem that arises when someone can’t locate a seemingly non-existent life insurance company is more widespread that you probably realize. The root of the issue is caused by life insurance companies consolidating their operations and being purchased by other life insurance companies, changing their name, or selling off policies to another company. The problem is amplified because of the fact that Life insurance policies are one of those things that tend to get set aside for long periods of time. I call it the Ronco syndrome – you know, Ron Popeil, the famous infomercial guy – “set it and forget it”? When someone buys insurance, they often put it in a file cabinet or a safe. They what happens when they die? Chances are, 10, 20 or even 30 years have gone by. In that amount of time, their life insurance company could have changed ownership and names several times. So, how do you find a life insurance company that doesn’t seem to exist anymore?
There are several free resources. The first step is to start digging online. If you can’t find any information about the company directly on your own on the internet, you can turn to various other sources for help. Here’s what to do:
- Get the actual legal name of the insurance company off of the policy.
- Check to see if there is an address or phone number on the policy (this is a pretty obvious one – you probably wouldn’t be reading this if that were the case)
- Determine what state the policy was purchased in and what state the policy holder lived in when the policy was issued.
- Contact the state insurance department in which the company was located at the time the policy was issued.
- If no luck, then contact the state insurance department in the state the policy holder resided at the time the policy was issued.
- You can find the state insurance departments by visiting www.naic.org.
- As a last resort to locate the company on your own, you can visit your local library and request Best’s Insurance Reports. This is an annual publication that reports changes in insurance company names, re-organizations, mergers, and bankruptcies in the past year. If you’re lucky, you can find previous editions to locate the company.
- If you still can’t locate the company, there are a number of paid services online that will attempt to locate the company for you.
Whatever you do, when searching for a lost company, take copious notes. These notes just may be your roadmap to locating the lost company. Good luck and enjoy life!