How To Find Lost Life Insurance & Annuity Policies

Some times life insurance policyholders forget to inform their beneficiaries that they have taken out life insurance that lists them as beneficiary.   At other times the primary beneficiary knows about the life insurance policy but the contingent beneficiaries are not informed.  Should there be an accident that kills the policyholder and primary beneficiary such as an auto crash involving husband and wife. The contingent beneficiaries are left in the dark about the existence of the policy.

Filing a claim is the beneficiary’s responsibility. Due to the lack of knowledge about the in force insurance beneficiaries leave millions of dollars in life insurance proceeds unclaimed.  Insurance companies want to pay these claims that are rightfully due.  If the claims are never filed eventually the funds of the policy reverts to insured’s home state’s lost property account.

There is no statewide database of insurance policies so the beneficiaries are on their own.

Check deceased’s

  • Safety Deposit Box
  • Financial Records for any payments made to an insurance company
  • Address Book for adviser, insurance agent, accountant or planner.

You can view a short video by the  Insurance Information Institute here.

You may ask questions in the comments or contact me privately Tim Barton, ChFC


6 Responses

  1. Pam Schifano

    Tim: My mother passed away in November, 2004. I was aware that she had an annuity that she had opened when she received pension monies from the doctor’s office she worked for for 20 years. I never saw a statement….she just told me about it. Her husband (my stepfather) was named primary beneficiary and my sisters and I were named secondary. After her death, we lost touch with our stepfather and he remarried. He passed away in July of this year. His daughter had tried to go through the desk of his papers and look for anything that might be linked to this annuity. How can we do a search to see if this account still exists? I have no way of knowing if he cashed it in or left it alone. I do have her social security number and her address at the time of death. Is this a lost cause?

    1. Pam,
      Can you contact the doctor’s office to find out the insurance company’s name? Then you can contact the company to find out if the annuity is still in force or not. It sounds likely your stepfather would have filed a claim on your mother’s annuity. He would have designated his choice of beneficiaries or the annuity may have ended with his death. In any case I would recommend contacting the insurance company to confirm the annuity status. You may contact me at for personal assistance.

    1. Peggy

      Dear Cynthia,

      I can sympathize with you. My husband died, leaving me a $400,000 Annuity without telling me the name of the company. I’ve spent the last year and 8 months looking for it.

      Have you searched all your leads? Back track to when the policy was issued. Find out how the payments were being made. If they were being made by auto-deduction from a checking/savings/retirement account, contact the bank or institution where the funds were coming from. Then, you can go from there, concerning the policy number and proving right to beneficiary.

      If your parents paid for this policy by check, there should be a record of their cancelled checks. The same amount would show up every month on their bank statements. The bank can tell you the name of the company that was receiving the payments.

  2. Mrs. Peggy Black

    May 12, 2013

    Dear Mr. Barton,

    My name is Mrs. Peggy Black. My husband left me a 30-year Annuity, worth $350,000, when he died on 11-13-2013. The only piece of paper containing the name, telephone number, account number and address was accidentally thrown away.

    I have been searching for this Annuity since December, 2013. I have exhausted my resources of D.F.A.S., I.R.S. and the F.O.I.A. The Private Investigator I hired has also exhausted his resources. My husband, Chief James F. Black, U.S.N. Retired, died of C.O.P.D., caused by Agent Orange. He did 9 tours in Vietnam. He retired in October 1974.

    He bought this Annuity while he was in the Navy and the payments for this came out of his Navy Retirement Pay. The 30 years was up in 1998. I have to find this company to claim the Annuity, as I am the Beneficiary. Thank you for any information you can give me.

    Sincerely yours,
    Mrs. Peggy Black

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