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Finding life insurance

How to find a relative’s life insurance policy

published: 17 September 2020
Read time: 5 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 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 not immediately to hand, there are two other options to find life insurance policies: applying to the Unclaimed Assets Register (UAR), or a spot of detective work.

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Applying to the Unclaimed Assets Register

For a £25 fee, you can find out if the deceased has any untouched financial records. Visit the website or call 0333 000 0182

Term life insurance policies should be immediately reported, but whole-of-life policies, which can include over 50s cover, are not added to the register until the 100th birthday of a policyholder.

If an initial search doesn’t yield results, you can reapply to the register in years to come because life unclaimed insurance policies don’t expire.

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:

  1. 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, who will be able to help

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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

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 and 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 just 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.

Conversely, 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

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 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.

Some prices will be guaranteed and fully underwritten which means you can buy immediately. Others will ask you to confirm certain details with the insurer.

If you want to add critical illness cover to see how this affects the cost of life insurance then you can do this by selecting ‘Add critical illness cover’.

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