How to Find Life Insurance and Annuity Policies
Legacy Life Insured helps your beneficiaries — typically family members — pay for expenses when you die. Many factors impact the cost of your premium, including health and hazardous activities like rock climbing or auto racing.
Hereditary diseases and a history of severe illnesses may also raise your premiums. Some insurers offer guaranteed issue life policies that skip the medical exam and can’t be declined, but these are generally more expensive.
When a loved one dies, sorting through all the paperwork can be overwhelming. But it’s important to remember that there may be financial benefits from a life insurance policy, such as settling the person’s debts, paying for funeral expenses, or helping family members pay bills. If you’re unsure whether your loved one had life insurance or can’t find a policy, you can request information from the company that issued it. This process is usually free if you are the named beneficiary or an estate executor. But there are private companies that offer these services for a fee.
Check with your state insurance department or your financial advisor. Many of these companies will have access to records of all policies purchased by a deceased client and can assist you with finding a policy or a record of a previous policy. You can also ask the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Life Insurance Policy Locator service to find a lost policy. The service requests participating companies to search their records for a policy, contract, or certificate in the deceased’s name and will notify you of any results.
The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation will send your request to all life insurance companies that sell policies in the state. We will notify you of the results after receiving a complete and notarized submission form with the death certificate. If a company’s response is pending, contact the division’s consumer advocate to discuss the matter. Please note that if a policy is found, it can take several months before you receive the actual money from the company. This is because the company must verify that you are a policy beneficiary.
Every year, millions of dollars in life insurance benefits go unclaimed by beneficiaries who can’t find their deceased loved ones’ policies. To address this issue, the Oklahoma Insurance Department and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners have teamed up to promote the Life Policy Locator service. This free tool helps connect consumers with their loved ones’ lost life insurance policies and annuities.
The first step in finding a life insurance policy is to look through any paperwork your relative may have saved. You can start by looking at tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and other documents. Search through filing cabinets and safe deposit boxes. Check the beneficiary lists on any checks, certificates of deposit, and other documents. You should also ask relatives if they remember receiving life insurance paperwork, such as illustrations and booklets, which often have contact information for the insurance company.
Another option is to visit your state’s insurance department website and use its life policy locator. Each state’s tool will direct your request to all life insurance companies that sell policies in that particular state. Additionally, you can use the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ life policy locator, which will forward your request to all member states.
Lastly, you can try a private policy locator service such as MIB Group, which can search for evidence of insurance applications. This can be helpful if your loved one applied for life insurance after 1996. MIB also offers a fee-based service to help you find life insurance policies. Be sure to compare quotes and coverage levels before purchasing a policy. Ensure you understand the policy terms, including any premiums, cash values, and surrender penalties.
The policy owner is the person who pays the premium for a life insurance policy. They also have all of the rights to the cash value, choose beneficiaries, and can transfer or surrender the policy at their discretion. They may not be insured, but this is often the case for families who buy policies to protect each other’s financial interests in the event of a death. The policy owner can also make changes to the policy, such as changing beneficiaries or adding riders.
The insurance company will send the owner an annual statement of account showing how much money has been paid in and out, the current policy value, and the total death benefit. The policy owner also has the right to a free look period, usually ten days or more, to examine the policy and decide whether they want to keep it or return it for a refund. The policy owner can only withdraw funds or collaterally assign the policy for any purpose, such as a divorce settlement.
They also have the right to a grace period, the time after the due date when the insurance company accepts a payment for one or more months without a late penalty. If the policy is not renewed at the end of this period, it will lapse.
The policy owner can change the beneficiary of a policy as often as they like. Still, it must be in the name of a person or entity that is a legal resident of the United States and has an insurable interest. This includes persons related by blood, spouses, domestic partners, and business co-owners.
A life insurance rider allows you to customize a whole life policy to fit your particular circumstances, lifestyle, and financial goals. You can use riders to purchase additional coverage without underwriting, waive premiums if you become disabled, add benefits for chronic illness, or even buy children’s term insurance. There are many options, so it’s important to consult a financial professional to understand your choices and determine whether a rider is worth it.
Generally, insurance companies offer different types of riders for their whole-life policies. Some are standard and available from most insurers, while others are more specialized. You can usually add a rider when you purchase your life insurance policy, halfway through the term, or as it nears its renewal.
Some riders, such as an accelerated death benefit, allow you to claim part of the death benefit while still alive. This can be helpful for those who need the money to pay medical bills, but it may affect the final death benefit. Another option is a paid-up additions rider, which allows you to purchase more coverage on certain dates without undergoing a new medical exam or paying an added premium.
Adding a life insurance rider can be expensive, so it’s important to consider your needs and budget before deciding. A financial professional can help you review your options, explain the risks and benefits of a specific rider, and answer any questions you have. Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. She has also written for Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, and CNET.
A small portion of every premium payment on a permanent life insurance policy (typically any whole life or universal policy) is allocated to the cash value savings component, accumulating interest over time. Some policies may offer the option of using these accumulated funds to pay a portion or all of the death benefit should you need to do so. This feature is unique to permanent life insurance policies and can function much like a tax-deferred savings account.
However, it’s important to note that the cash value is not added to the death benefit upon your passing. If you take out loans or withdraw funds from the policy, the amount paid to your beneficiaries will be reduced to reflect the diminished total. This is a significant reason why it’s important to work with an agent who has your best interests at heart and bases the recommendation for a replacement or change to your existing coverage on an appropriate needs analysis.
Many permanent life insurance policies offer the option of adding a rider that increases the face value of your policy to help protect you from rising costs. In addition to providing greater security, these riders allow you to keep the same level of coverage without providing new evidence of insurability as you age.
For permanent life insurance policies that offer the option of adding a rider to increase the face value of your policy, you’ll also want to consider a company with high financial strength ratings. Independent rating organizations issue these ratings and can indicate a life insurance company’s ability to meet its obligations. This can be particularly important in light of recent economic events, which have threatened the solvency of some insurance companies and, thus, the safety of policy benefits.