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Can the Beneficiary of a Life Insurance Policy Claim the Money?

Yes, the beneficiary of a life insurance policy can claim the money from the death benefit of a life insurance policy.

In fact, only the beneficiary may make claim for a death benefit, if the beneficiary is alive to make a claim.

In order to claim the money as beneficiary you must be named as a beneficiary in the life insurance policy, and the insured person must have died while the coverage was In Force and the premiums paid up to date.

Only beneficiaries can claim the death benefit from a life insurance policy.

If no beneficiaries are living when the insured person dies, the proceeds go through probate. 


When the owner of a life insurance policy dies, the owner’s beneficiaries are paid out a death benefit by the insurer. 


However, insurance companies aren’t always notified when a policyholder has died, and in many cases, the beneficiary will know about the insured’s death before the insurance carrier finds out.


That’s why you should file a claim with the life insurer as soon as possible in order to collect the death benefit from the insurance plan.


However, if the insured person dies without telling the beneficiaries where to find a copy of the insurance policy (or if a policy even exists), you may not have all the information you need to file a death claim. 


That means the death benefit could join tens of millions of dollars in unclaimed life insurance funds. 


Many policies have death benefits that go unclaimed each year because the beneficiaries are unaware they are due money from a life insurance policy.


Whether you’re facing the recent death of a spouse, parent, business partner, or sibling, or someone other loved one, it can be daunting to know where to start in order to make a claim and get the death benefit.


Learn how to find out if someone has life insurance and how to find the life insurance policy of someone who died.


Important Tips:


If you don’t have a copy of the insurance policy, check with the deceased’s financial advisors, executor, insurance agent, or union representatives.

Life Insurance Policy Locator Service, can help you track down a missing policy online.

Contact the deceased’s employer if their life insurance was part of an employer-sponsored group life insurance program.


How Do You Find Out If Someone Has Life Insurance?


If you’re unsure whether someone had a life insurance policy at all, there are a few places you can look for confirmation:

  • Banking Records: It’s likely the deceased was still paying for their policy before they died, in which case you might find withdrawals for premiums in their financial statements or check books.
  • Employer: If the deceased was employed when they died, they might have had subsidized group life insurance. Their former employer should be able to help you determine if there was any coverage on the deceased person.
  • Member Organizations: If your loved one was part of a union, veterans group or other organization, the group may have provided life insurance options and may be able to inform you of an active insurance policy in the name of the deceased.
  • Personal Files: If the deceased kept important paperwork organized, you may be able to find policy paperwork or confirmation that they owned a life insurance policy in their files.


Whether you’re able to verify your loved one had a policy or not, searching for a copy of the insurance contract is a natural next step.


How to File a Life Insurance Claim for Death Benefits


The life insurance policy will have all the information you need to file a life insurance claim, including:

  • Name and Contact Information of the Insurance Company
  • Life Insurance Policy Number
  • Death Benefit Amount
  • Name of Beneficiary or Beneficiaries


You’ll want to contact the insurance company and notify them that the insured has died, you are a beneficiary of the life insurance policy, and request any forms you will need to fill out to make a claim for the death benefit from the policy.


If you know you’re the beneficiary of a life insurance policy but don’t have a copy of it, there are a few ways to find a lost policy:


Contact the Life Insurance Company


If you know which life insurance company issued the policy, contact the insurance carrier directly. The insurer should have the policy on file. 


Be prepared to prove that you are the beneficiary listed (usually with an ID such as your Driver’s License Number or Social Security Number) and have a copy of the death certificate of the insured person to prove that the insured is deceased.


The Unclaimed Life Insurance Database

Life Insurance Policy Locator Service:

Created by NAIC, this lookup tool asks for information like your address, relationship to the deceased, and the deceased’s Social Security number, then asks their partner insurers to search their records for matching policies. 

It may take up to 90 business days for life insurers to respond to a request.


You will be contacted directly if you are a beneficiary or otherwise authorized to get information about the missing policy.


Contact the Deceased’s Legal, Financial

or Insurance Representative


Anyone who advised the deceased on financial matters or helped them manage their estate — such as an accountant, attorney, financial planner, banker, or business partners — might be able to track down their insurance policy, or at least tell you which company they purchased the policy from.


Similarly, if the deceased person purchased auto insurance or home insurance through an insurance agent, it’s worth contacting them to find out if the deceased had life insurance.


Search for the Physical Copy of the Insurance Policy


Search all the deceased’s belongings, including safes, storage areas in the person’s home, such as basements or attics. Check the deceased person’s mail to see if you can find any correspondence from their insurance carrier, like bills or annual insurance statements.


Term life insurance policies can last as long as 30 years, while whole life insurance policies can last the entire lifetime of the insured person. 


If the policyholder has stored the document in a safe deposit box at their bank, you’ll need to get a court order to prove that they have died and that you’re allowed to access the safe deposit box’s contents. 


The executor of the deceased’s estate should also be able to access the safe deposit box.


Search Digital Storage


If you have access to the deceased’s phone or computer, you may be able to find the policy stored on the device’s hard drive, or in an email account.


How to Find Out if You’re a Beneficiary


It’s not uncommon for people to have no idea they are named as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy. 


The duration of a life insurance policy can last for decades, and beneficiary designations can change over the course of someone’s life. 


If a loved one died and you’re unsure who their beneficiaries were or if they even had a life insurance policy, it’s worth doing a thorough search to ensure you’re not leaving a policy death benefit unclaimed.


The Social Security Administration’s Death Master File


If you’re lucky, the insurance company will let you know you’re a beneficiary themselves. 


Many insurers now regularly compare their records against the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, which records deaths of Social Security number (SSN) holders that are reported to the SSA by funeral homes or loved ones. 


Several U.S. states use the Death Master File (DMF) to identify lost life insurance policies. 


If a life insurance carrier finds an insurance policy death benefit that’s unclaimed, they’ll find addresses for any current beneficiaries, and mail them claim forms. 


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