It is the job of family members to notify the life insurance company of a policy owner’s death. As many as one-third of all life insurance policy benefits go unclaimed on death of the insured, because heirs often aren’t aware a policy exists, or don’t know how to find it.
When missing heirs neglect to claim life policy benefits after death of the insured, by law, unclaimed life insurance policy cash and benefits are held in trust until claimants come forward. But little effort is made to locate lost heirs and they can be difficult to trace, due to name changes after marriage or divorce, an unreported change of address or expired postal forwarding order after a move, and incomplete or illegible records.
In addition to unclaimed policy benefits, lost heirs and policyholders may also be entitled to an unexpected windfall. As a growing number of mutual life insurance companies – including MetLife, John Hancock, Prudential and others – have converted to public ownership, millions of current and former policyholders and heirs are entitled to receive stock and cash, in addition to policy benefits. When John Hancock demutualized, it did not have current addresses for 400,000 policyholders. Prudential could not locate 1.2 million missing policyholders, and billions of dollars in MetLife stock and cash arising from its demutualization went unclaimed.
Government trustees recently took custody of $22.8 billion in unclaimed funds, of which less than $1 billion was claimed by owners or heirs. Even if your insurance company no longer exists, payments of up to $300,000 are possible from state insurance guaranty associations.
If you have reason to believe a life insurance policy exists but have not received payment, complete the form below to initiate a search.