I am recently widowed. Before passing, my spouse was terminally ill and did not make his last policy payment before he passed away. Now the policy lapsed, is there anything I can do?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Nonpayment of premium does not always result in a policy lapse. First, there are often safety measures called non-forfeiture options (NFOs) that kick in when a premium isn’t paid. On a permanent policy, these measures can include what’s called an applied premium loan, which is essentially your policy borrowing money from your cash values to apply as premium payment. There may also be a waiver of premium rider that your spouse activated before his or her death. If they did, then there could have been no premium payment due. Lastly, even if the policy was unpaid and lapsed, you may still be eligible to receive a check for any accrued cash value of the policy. If you are unsure about how to obtain the cash values, call your spouse’s insurance company and explain your situation to them. Be sure that you have a copy of the death certificate so that you can supply that to them. If you are not the owner of the policy, it is likely that they will not give you any information until you have furnished proof that your spouse is deceased.

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