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Finding life insurance

How to find a relative’s life insurance policy

published: 20 December 2022
Read time: 6 minutes

When a relative dies, you may not know much about their financial affairs, and life insurance policies can go unclaimed. This guide explains how you discover and claim on a life insurance policy

Can you find out if someone has life insurance?

It might take a bit of hunting around, but there are several ways how to find out if someone has life insurance and whether you are due a payout.

It usually falls to the executor of the will to look for a life insurance policy, but next of kin and policy beneficiaries can also request information. If there is no will, it falls to the appointed administrator of the estate.

Because they should have grant of probate, the death certificate and the deceased’s personal identity documents, they are best placed to find out about a life insurance policy.

If this information isn’t immediately to hand, how to find if someone has life insurance can be difficult, and it will take some detective work.

How to find a lost life insurance policy for free

If you want to seek out a life insurance policy on your own, a little detective work is required:

Check through the deceased’s bank statements to see if any regular outgoing payments are for life insurance. Some premiums are also paid annually, so check a year’s worth of statements. While it won’t give you the policy number, it should identify the insurance company, that will be able to help.

Look for the original policy document. People tend to keep important documents together, so start your search where they stored their passport or bank details.

Contact their employer. Many firms provide death in service policies and the deceased’s employer will have full details of this and any pension owed.

Contact other insurers. It’s time-consuming but with grant of probate you can contact insurers and ask if they have a policy for the deceased. Most life insurance companies are extremely helpful, while a full list of Association of British Insurers (ABI) members can be found at www.abi.org.uk

Speak to their friends. It can be easier to talk to people we’re not as close to about subjects related to death. Your loved one may have confided about their benefits in friends, doctors, or social groups.

woman with laptop looking at some documents

What information do you need to make a life insurance claim?

When you’ve located the life insurance policy, you will still need to make a claim. You should try to provide the following information to the insurance company:

  • The policyholder’s name

  • Their policy number

  • The death certificate

  • Your proof of identity

Your relationship to the person who has died.

If you don’t have all these details – particularly the policy number – it doesn’t mean you cannot claim. The insurer will be able to advise you further.

Who can request information about life insurance?

The executor of the will or the appointed administrator of the estate, if there is no will, are permitted to ask for information on a life insurance policy.

Next of kin and policy beneficiaries can also request information, although they may need to provide proof of identity to the insurance company.

What happens to unclaimed life insurance?

There’s no expiry date on unclaimed life insurance policies, so they sit waiting for the beneficiary to claim it. When finally claimed, you’ll get the full amount in almost all cases.

The exception is whole-of-life policies where the policyholder died short of their 100th birthday and the insurer was not informed. In this case, unpaid premiums will continue to be deducted from the final payout until the insurer is told of the death, the claim is made, or the deceased would have reached their centenary.

Do life insurance companies contact beneficiaries?

Not usually. It falls to the executor of the estate to tell a life insurance company that the policyholder has died.

Even though the deceased’s bank account will be closed and the premiums will cease, this isn’t enough information for the life insurer to decide that a policyholder has died – the policy may have been stopped.

The good news is that life insurance companies have started deploying teams to search the death register to match against their policyholders and then notify beneficiaries.

What happens to life insurance with no beneficiaries or if the beneficiary has died?

The policy becomes part of the overall estate. A life insurance policy does not need a named beneficiary to be claimed and a large number of life insurance policies are set up this way.

You can be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy without knowing about it. The role of the executor of the will is to find the deceased’s life insurance policy and notify the insurer they have passed away.

Once this happens, even if you didn’t know you were a beneficiary, you can still be contacted and receive a payout.

In the case of joint life insurance where both policy holders die at the same time, the policy would pay out to the named beneficiaries just once, in the same way as a single life insurance policy.

How do I find out if someone has died?

If you have lost touch with your relatives, you may not be informed when they have died. If you need to do a little detective work in an increasingly digital age, some of these ideas might work:

  • Check obituaries: There are usually public announcements posted for deaths, while there are websites for both recent obituaries and historical ones.

  • Search social media: If the deceased had a social media account, tributes are usually posted about them.

  • Scan local news: Can be useful, especially if you believe the death to be unexpected or out of the ordinary.

  • Find the gravesite: There are a number of websites in the UK dedicated to finding graves of the deceased.

  • Genealogy website: This is a longer shot, but may work if their family tree has been updated since they died.

Compare life insurance quotes

If you are looking to take a life insurance policy comparing life insurance quotes can help you find the right policy for you at the right price. You can use MoneySuperMarket’s life insurance comparison tool to compare both single and joint life insurance quotes.

All you need to do is answer a few questions about you, your health and lifestyle, and the amount of cover you need. You can then choose whether you want to take out level-term or decreasing-term cover.

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