Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Terry Turner

    Terry Turner

    Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator

    Terry Turner has more than 35 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).

    Read More
  • Edited By
    Matt Mauney
    Matt Mauney, Senior Editor for RetireGuide

    Matt Mauney

    Financial Editor

    Matt Mauney is an award-winning journalist, editor, writer and content strategist with more than 15 years of professional experience working for nationally recognized newspapers and digital brands. He has contributed content for ChicagoTribune.com, LATimes.com, The Hill and the American Cancer Society, and he was part of the Orlando Sentinel digital staff that was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2017.

    Read More
  • Financially Reviewed By
    Eric Estevez
    Eric Estevez, Independent Licensed Life Insurance Agent

    Eric Estevez

    Owner of HLC Insurance Broker, LLC

    Eric Estevez is a duly licensed independent insurance broker and a former financial institution auditor with more than a decade of professional experience. He has specialized in federal, state and local compliance for both large and small businesses.

    Read More
  • Published: January 25, 2021
  • Updated: May 22, 2023
  • 6 min read time
  • This page features 7 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
Fact Checked

A qualified expert reviewed the content on this page to ensure it is factually accurate, meets current industry standards and helps readers achieve a better understanding of retirement topics.

Cite Us
How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA Turner, T. (2023, May 22). How To Find Out If Someone Has Life Insurance. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved May 30, 2023, from https://www.retireguide.com/life-insurance/payout/policy-search/

MLA Turner, Terry. "How To Find Out If Someone Has Life Insurance." RetireGuide.com, 22 May 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/life-insurance/payout/policy-search/.

Chicago Turner, Terry. "How To Find Out If Someone Has Life Insurance." RetireGuide.com. Last modified May 22, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/life-insurance/payout/policy-search/.

Key Takeaways
  • It is quite common for life insurance policies to go unclaimed, which is one reason why communicating end-of-life plans to your beneficiaries is so important.
  • The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) helps people track down unclaimed life insurance policies.
  • You may have to do some detective work if the NAIC is unable to help. Ways of doing this include looking for physical and digital documents, checking the deceased’s bank accounts ​​for premium payments to a life insurance company and checking the deceased’s mail for at least one year after death for any life insurance premium notices.

What Is an Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy

If a person with a life insurance policy dies, but his or her beneficiaries are unaware of the coverage, it is an unclaimed life insurance policy. This is relatively common and can happen for several reasons.

Reasons a Life Insurance Policy May Be Unclaimed
  • The beneficiaries are not aware a life insurance policy exists.
  • The beneficiaries are not aware they are named as beneficiaries in the policy.
  • The beneficiaries can’t locate the insurance company.
  • The insurance company can’t locate the policy’s beneficiaries.
  • The insurance company no longer exists.
  • The insurer and policyholder lost contact with one another.
  • The insurer is unaware the policy holder died.

The amount of unclaimed life insurance benefits in the United States topped $1 billion dollars by 2013, according to Consumer Reports. At the time, the average payout was $2,000 and some were as much as $300,000.

Consumer Reports estimates that the odds that you are a beneficiary of an unclaimed life insurance payout is about one in 600 — better than your chances of winning the Powerball lottery.

There are several ways to find a life insurance policy when someone dies. These include internet tools and some detective work on your own.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) — a group that represents the chief insurance regulators of each of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories — has an online tool that can help track down unclaimed life insurance policies.

Once you fill out an online form on the policy locator tool, the NAIC will ask participating insurance companies to scour their records to see if they have a life insurance policy in the name of the deceased person you listed on the form. The companies will also look for policies that name you as a beneficiary.

The NAIC tool has been around since 2016. More than 145,000 people had used it as of July 31, 2020. In that time, the policy locator had found 46,665 matches with claims totaling $650,520,451.

Life Insurance Policy Locator
You can use the Life Insurance Policy Locator from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to find life insurance policies and annuity contracts of deceased family members and close relatives.
Source: National Association of Insurance Commissioners
Curious if your loved one had life insurance that was lost or unclaimed? This video has got you covered with a comprehensive guide on how to search for those policies.

Other Ways to Find a Lost Life Insurance Policy

The NAIC locator tool only works with participating life insurance companies. If it doesn’t turn up a match, you can still do some work on your own to track down a missing or lost life insurance policy.

14 Ways to Find a Lost or Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy
  1. Talk to the deceased's family and friends.
  2. Check bank statements for premium payments to a life insurance company.
  3. Check the deceased’s mail for at least one year after the death for life insurance premium notices.
  4. Check with the Canadian OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance online search tool if you believe the policy may have originated in Canada.
  5. Check with your state’s unclaimed property office or use the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators’ online property locator tool.
  6. Contact the deceased’s previous employers or union in case there is a group life insurance policy.
  7. Contact the life insurance company if you know it.
  8. Contact your state insurance commissioner or look online to see if your state has online search services available to look for lost life insurance policies — at least 29 states offer this free service.
  9. If you have a copy of one life insurance policy, review the attached application which will list any other life insurance policies.
  10. Look through the deceased’s personal files, books, safe deposits or other secure storage places for insurance documents.
  11. Review the deceased’s tax returns for interest payments from an insurance company.
  12. Search the deceased’s computer and other digital storage — external hard drives, flash drives, a Dropbox or other online storage.
  13. Talk with the deceased’s financial advisors or lawyers.
  14. As a last resort, you can hire a private search firm that specializes in locating unclaimed life insurance policies.

What If the Insurance Company Changed Names or Went out of Business?

If the insurance company has changed its name, has gone out of business or has been bought out by another insurer, you may be able to do an internet search to find out what company currently has its assets and policies.

Once you have the new name, find the state of the company’s home office and contact that state’s insurance commission or department.

You can find a list of insurance company names and home office addresses in “A.M. Best’s Insurance Reports,” an annually updated report on companies. It is available in many larger libraries.

3 Minute Quiz: Can You Retire Comfortably?
Take our free quiz & match with a financial advisor in 3 easy steps.
Tailored to your goals. Near you or online.

Obtaining a Death Certificate When Filing a Life Insurance Claim

To claim a death benefit payout from a life insurance policy you will need two things: A copy of the life insurance policy and a copy of the policyholder’s death certificate.

A death certificate is a legal document recording a person’s death. Obtaining a death certificate copy is likely easier and more straightforward than tracking down a lost or unclaimed life insurance policy.

Where to Obtain a Death Certificate
  • Your county coroner's office or state vital records department
  • The funeral home or mortuary that handled the deceased

Death certificates are public records in some, but not all states. In some states, you will need to provide proof of your relationship to the deceased. In those cases, generally only immediate family members, government agencies, the executor of the deceased’s estate and funeral directors can request an official copy.

To request a copy, you’ll need to show a valid government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license and proof of your relationship to the deceased such as a birth certificate or marriage license.

The life insurance company will also have its own rules on how to submit the death certificate. This varies from company to company, so you should check with the company about its requirements before submitting the death certificate along with the policy.


Connect With a Financial Advisor Instantly

Our free tool can help you find an advisor who serves your needs. Get matched with a financial advisor who fits your unique criteria. Once you’ve been matched, consult for free with no obligation.

Last Modified: May 22, 2023

7 Cited Research Articles

  1. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2020, September 10). NAIC Life Insurance Policy Locator Matches More Than $1 Billion in Life Insurance Benefits and Annuities to Beneficiaries. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20210902180327/https://content.naic.org/article/news_release_naic_life_insurance_policy_locator_helps_consumers_find_650_million_life_insurance.htm
  2. Allstate. (2020, January). How to Locate an Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy. Retrieved from https://www.allstate.com/tr/life-insurance/unclaimed-life-insurance-policy.aspx
  3. Weisbaum, H. (2013, February 4). Unclaimed Life Insurance Payouts Top $1 Billion. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/id/100431855
  4. Consumer Reports. (2013, February). How to Claim and Unclaimed Life Insurance Policy. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/02/how-to-find-lost-life-insurance-policies/index.htm
  5. Insurance Information Institute. (n.d.). Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits. Retreived from https://www.iii.org/article/unclaimed-life-insurance-benefits
  6. Insurance Information Institute. (n.d.). 12 Steps for Locating a Lost Life Insurance Policy. Retrieved from https://www.iii.org/article/how-can-i-locate-lost-life-insurance-policy
  7. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (n.d.). Life Insurance Policy Locator Service. Retrieved from https://eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator/#/welcome