How to find out if someone has a life insurance policy

A man and woman sit on a sofa facing each other, touching and talking.

As a financial dependent, you might wonder what will happen to you if the person supporting you dies. Or, perhaps you lost someone recently, and you’re wondering whether they had a life insurance policy whose payout can be used to cover their funeral costs, and help support family members after their death.

Either way, a person’s life insurance coverage (or lack thereof) can impact your life. In this article, learn how to find out if someone has a life insurance policy.

What is a life insurance policy?

A life insurance policy is a type of insurance coverage that provides a death benefit to beneficiaries upon the policyholder’s death. A beneficiary is the person (or persons) who receives the policy’s death benefit. The beneficiaries can use the proceeds to cover funeral and burial expenses or to sustain them financially. Some recipients use the death benefits to pay off their mortgage, cover college tuition for children, or make up for the loss of income from taking time off work to grieve.

Many people purchase life insurance for peace of mind. After all, no one wants to leave their surviving dependents struggling financially. Adequate coverage can help loved ones make ends meet and make life a little easier during an already difficult time.

As a primary or contingent beneficiary, knowing someone had life insurance and that you’re named in their policy can be a major source of comfort. That person cared enough to ensure you were provided for, even if they are no longer by your side.

How to find out if someone who is still alive has a life insurance policy

Ideally, conversations about insurance begin before someone dies, not after. While it can feel a little uncomfortable to discuss life insurance with a parent, partner or spouse, or other relative, it’s a meaningful discussion to have.

You can initiate the talk when both of you have time and don’t have immediate responsibilities to take care of. You should mention any concerns you have about your future financial security should something happen and they die.

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For instance, if you’re a stay-at-home parent tending to young children, you might rely entirely on their income to pay for everything from clothes to groceries. If they die, you’d need to find a way to make ends meet while still looking after the kids.

Another expense worth mentioning is the cost of a funeral, which can be up to $9,000 or more. If you don’t have much in savings, you and other survivors will need to come up with the money to bury your loved one. That can be very hard to do, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck or don’t have a job.

If your loved one tells you they have a life insurance policy, ask them for specific details, including the following:

The insurance company’s nameAmount of coverageNames of the beneficiariesPolicy numberWhere you can find the paperwork for the policy

Ideally, you’ll be one of the beneficiaries if you’re financially reliant on your loved one.

However, if your loved one doesn’t have a life insurance policy, now is definitely the time to get one. Explain the benefits of coverage and ask if they would consider buying a policy. Even a policy that covers funeral expenses and nothing else is a start.

It’s entirely possible to find a term life policy with affordable coverage. In fact, your loved one can do so quite easily through Haven Life.

How to find out if someone who recently died had a life insurance policy

When a loved one dies, money is the last thing you want to worry about. However, you might need to pay for their funeral or make your next mortgage payment, and an insurance policy would certainly make things easier. If your loved one did name you as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy, you can file a claim, and you’ll typically receive payment in a matter of days, provided there is no reason for the insurer to contest the claim.

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If you were named as a beneficiary on an insurance policy, but you are not aware of it, the insurance company will contact you directly within a year or so if you don’t file a claim, potentially even sooner. (Insurers are required by law to consult the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File twice a year to see if any insured persons have died.)

And if you’re unsure if they had coverage, and whether you were a named beneficiary, there are ways you can find out.

Start by speaking with family members or very close friends. While you might be a family member, it’s possible your loved one appointed a different relative as the executor of their estate. Ask if your loved one left a life insurance policy and who the provider was. You can also check the person’s contacts to see if the name of a life insurance agent is listed.

If you believe you are a named beneficiary, and have the insurance provider’s name, you can call them directly and ask whether the person had a policy. The insurance company or agency will likely ask for proof of your identity, like your Social Security Number or driver’s license. If they locate a policy for your loved one, they will ask for a copy of their death certificate before providing further information.

Sort through your loved one’s documents to see if you can find any evidence of a life insurance policy. Check their files, safe deposit boxes, or anywhere else they saved essential papers. If you come across any paycheck stubs, see if there are any deductions for life insurance.

You can also examine bank statements to see if there are any payments for life insurance premiums or if they accessed some of the cash value of a permanent life insurance policy. The policy might also be listed in their will or in a trust document.

Finally, there are online tools that can help you locate life insurance policies. Again, if you believe you might be a named beneficiary, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has an online life insurance policy locator service you can use to find out whether a deceased person has coverage. You’ll need to provide your contact information to access policy details, and they might ask for a copy of the person’s death certificate.

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Another source is the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. It has a database of unclaimed property, including life insurance and death benefits, you can access. You’ll need to provide your name and state, and a list of any property in your name will appear.

How to make a claim

If you’re a named life insurance beneficiary on your loved one’s policy, you may file a claim with the insurance company to access the death benefits.

Start by gathering a few key pieces of information, including a government-issued death certificate. The death certificate will list the date of your loved one’s death and its cause. The insurance company will use the death certificate to determine if the benefit is payable. Then they use documents such as personal identification to ensure that the person is the beneficiary of the policy.

The insurance company might ask you questions during the claims process, such as your relationship with the deceased. They might also inquire about your loved one’s marital history to determine whether divorce or community property laws apply.

After finalizing your claim, it might take up to four weeks before you receive the money. You can shorten your wait by asking the insurer to directly deposit the funds into your bank account, if they offer that option, which could take 7-10 business days.

Start the conversation about life insurance early

While talking about death with a loved one can be distressing, an early conversation can alleviate major future headaches. You’ll learn whether they have life insurance and if you’re a beneficiary (or one of multiple beneficiaries) on their policy. If you’re not a beneficiary and rely on them for financial support, encourage them to update their policy to include you or buy another policy that names you as the recipient.

Keep in mind that life insurance doesn’t need to be a significant expense. At Haven Life, we offer affordable term life insurance policies you can customize to suit your needs. You or your loved one can quickly get the coverage you need through our simple online application. Get a free quote from Haven Life today.