How to collect on missing life insurance policies

There is nothing more frustrating than to go through your uncle’s papers and not find the life insurance policy in which he had made you the beneficiary. You know that such a policy exists because your uncle had told you before his death. But where is it? You need not lose hope. The following five points tell you how to collect on missing life insurance policies:

-- Search through the cancelled checks and old checks. -- Trace the checks made out to insurance companies. -- Check with you uncle’s lawyer, banker and insurance agent. -- Check with your uncle’s past employers. -- Check with the Medical Information Bureau.

The object of such a search is to obtain the basic information regarding the policy name, the company from where the policy was taken and the policy number. After that, it becomes easy for you to contact the company with documents establishing your bona fides.

Of course, you can get this benefit only if the policy is still active and has not lapsed – that is your uncle was making the premium payments till the date of his death. You must remember that the insurance company will not give up on premiums easily. It would have sent letters to your uncle advising him of the default. This would have been followed up with an investigation as to what has happened. After waiting for a suitable period the insurance company would declare that the policy has lapsed.

The policy also lapses if the insurance company is not informed of the death of the insured. It s therefore in your interest to locate the policy details at the earliest and inform the insurance company.

In cases, where no one comes forward to claim the policy benefits, the insurance company transfers the money to the state. This normally happens after three to five years of the death of the insured. The money goes to the state comptroller’s department, and is treated as ‘unclaimed property’. It is finally added to the dormant bank accounts and uncollected rent deposits.

However, before this happens the state tries to contact the beneficiaries through newspaper advertisements and websites. The state comptroller or treasurer also provides assistance to possible beneficiaries by explaining the procedures.

But it is in the beneficiary’s interest to contact the insurance company before the money is sent to the state. The beneficiary must keep the time factor in mind; the more he delays in providing information to the insurance company the less likely are his chances.

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