When the insured person on a life insurance policy passes away, the insurance provider issues a payout to their beneficiaries. In the circumstance you are named as a beneficiary on an insurance policy, it is best to submit a claim form as early as possible to receive the death benefit.
In the scenario that a deceased family member has named you as a beneficiary without informing you or sharing the details of their life insurance policy with you, finding it can seem daunting.
Here are some ways to find out whether or not a deceased relative had a life insurance policy.
The first steps to finding a lost life insurance policy
Finding a lost life insurance policy may take sometime, but you cannot make a claim as a beneficiary without the information it provides.
The details you need for making a claim include:
- The name of the life insurance company and their contact information
- The policy number
- The policy amount
- The names of all designated beneficiaries
If you are sure that a loved one has named you as a beneficiary on their life policy but have neither its physical nor digital copy, here are some tips to help you locate the lost life insurance policy:
Get in touch with the insurance carrier
In the case you know who the insurer is, you can get in touch with them directly. You should have the following documents ready when you contact them:
- Death Certificate – To prove the insured has passed away
- An identity document – This is to prove that you are the listed beneficiary. You may use your driver’s license, passport, or any other relevant document to establish identity.
Contact financial advisors
If the deceased had hired a financial advisor — such as a financial planner, an attorney, or an accountant — to help them with banking, tax needs, insurance, or estate planning, they may have the life insurance policy number or, at the very least, know the name of the insurer that issued the policy.
In the case the deceased bought auto insurance or health insurance through an agent, consider contacting the agent. They might know whether the deceased had life insurance and the details.
Search for insurance related documents
You should search through bank safe deposit boxes, personal files, and other storage areas for a physical copy of the life insurance policy or any correspondence from the insurance carrier.
It is important to note that whole life plans cover the insured for a lifetime whereas term life insurance can last up to 35 years.Therefore, you may have to look through the deceased’s old files as well as the more recent ones.
Check for a digital copy
Many Canadian life insurers provide both a hard and soft copy of the policy to the policyholder; some others provide only one or the other. If you have access to the deceased’s laptop or computer, consider checking it. You may also want to consider checking any external drive they used. However, if the file is password-protected, retrieving it will be difficult without the password.
Tips to find out if your deceased loved-one had a life insurance policy
Not sure whether or not your relative had a life insurance policy? If so, there are a few ways to find out.
Check their banking records
If the deceased had an active life insurance policy, their financial statements are likely to show withdrawals for premium payments.
Contact their employer
Many Canadian employers offer workers access to life insurance for free or at reduced rates as part of their employee benefits package. Contact the deceased’s employer to check whether they offer group life insurance and, if yes, whether your relative had one.
Get in touch with their financial advisor
If your loved one had hired a financial advisors, estate planner, accountant, or lawyers, they may be able to tell you whether or not they had taken out a life insurance policy.
Go through income tax returns
Sift through the deceased’s tax returns to check if there was any interest received from or paid to a life insurance company.
Was your relative a part of a veteran’s group, union, or some other organization? If so, it is possible they may have purchased a policy through their organization. Contact any organization of which your loved one was a member to find a lost life insurance policy.
Use online policy search offered by the Canadian Life and Health Ombud Service
Another way to find out a lost life insurance policy is by using the online search service provided to Canadians by the CanadianLife and Health Ombud Service. To search for a lost policy, simply click the“Find Policy of Deceased” tab and submit a request.
Who can claim a lost life insurance policy?
When an insured passes away, generally the beneficiary is the person who files a claim. However, a family member or an estate trustee or any other legal representative can also submit a claim. That said, only the designated beneficiary will receive the proceeds from the policy, regardless of who submits the claim form.
While each insurer has its claim form, you will likely need to provide the following documents when filing a life insurance claim:
- The decedent’s death certificate
- The cause of death
- The policy number
- A copy of the beneficiary’s driver’s license or any other government-issued ID
Death benefits from a life insurance policy are not paid out automatically, largely because the insurance carrier usually does not know about the insured’s death unless someone notifies them. If you suspect a deceased relative had purchased a life insurance policy, speak to their financial or legal advisor. You can also find a lost life insurance policy by going through their personal files and financial records or contacting their employer. If nothing works, submit a policy search request through The Ombud Service for Life and Health Insurance website.
Frequently asked questions
Do life insurers contact beneficiaries after a death?
An insurer carrier may contact you in case you are listed as a beneficiary on the policy after the insured’s death if you do not contact them first. However, the problem is that since there is no automatic process that tells a provider about an insured’s death, they usually do not learn about it until a relative, usually the beneficiary, contacts them.
Why do life insurance benefits go unclaimed?
Generally, this happens when beneficiaries are not aware that they are named on the life insurance policy or if such a policy exists. Unless someone sends them a death notice, it is difficult for the life insurer to learn about an insured’s death. Even when the premium payments stop, the company has no reason to believe the policyholder has passed away. And even if provider is aware, it may not be able to contact the beneficiary if they had changed address without submitting a request to update their address on the file.
How long after death can you file a life insurance claim?
There is no time limit for claiming the death benefit of a life insurance policy. As long as the policy was in force at the time of insured’s death, you will receive the proceeds from it. You can file a life insurance claim online or submitting the form and other documents through the mail.
Who can file a life insurance claim?
Generally, beneficiaries of a life insurance policy make a claim, but others, such as a legal representative of the deceased or a close relative, can also submit a claim request. However, only the beneficiaries of the policy will receive the death benefit.
How to find a lost life insurance policy?
If you believe a deceased loved one had a life insurance policy in their name, you can find out by going through their financial records and personal files. You may also consider contacting their financial advisor or employer.