A deceased family member had a life insurance policy, but there is no record. Is there a way to find it?

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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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Finding life insurance policies or annuities outstanding is not always easy, as there is no central registry and some policies are paid-up and did not require ongoing payments.

Here are some techniques to use:

1. Go through all the papers of the deceased to see if the actual policy, or any forms or correspondence related to an insurance policy or annuity turns up.

2. Go through the checkbook of the deceased for as many years back as possible looking for premium payments made to an insurance company.

3. If the deceased was employed, inquire at the firm about any Group Life Insurance that it carried for the deceased. Many larger employers provide paid up group life to retirees.

4. Did the deceased belong to any association or clubs or fraternal organization that may have sponsored or otherwise provided life insurance programs? For example, such diverse organizations as AARP, Knights of Columbus, Rotary, Lutheran Brotherhood, etc. try to market insurance to members. Contact the organization and ask what companies they sponsored.

5. Ask friends and neighbors if the deceased ever mentioned life insurance, or an insurance agent, and if so what company or agent.

6. If you have any lead or clue, write to the home office of the insurance company with as much information as possible, including the name, date of birth, social security number, and all known past addresses.

7. If you find nothing, it may be worthwhile to write to the top 10 or 20 life insurance companies with the same information; the top 20 life companies (MetLife, Prudential, John Hancock, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, Equitable, MassMutual, Transamerica, Allstate, State Farm, Mutual of Omaha, Guardian) wrote over 50% of all life insurance sold some years back when the policy likely would have been bought.

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