- Division of Insurance
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Life Insurance Policy Locator continues to connect consumers with life insurance benefits, matching over 81,349 requests nationwide with claim amounts totaling $1,028,479,262 since its inception in November 2016.
Each year, millions of dollars in life insurance benefits go unclaimed by beneficiaries who can't find their deceased loved ones' policies or, in some cases, may not even know the policies exist. A recent NAIC survey found that there is a clear need for better communication about life insurance policies across all generations, especially amongst those ages 24-39, with only 30% of respondents in that group reporting that they are aware of key information pertaining to life insurance policies for which they are the beneficiary, including where the policy is kept, the name of the insurance carrier, and the benefit amount.
The Life Insurance Policy Locator helps consumers who do not have all the information that they need to claim the benefits that their loved ones intended for them to have. The tool is free to use and available online, eliminating the need to contact multiple companies or agents to find a policy. If a requester is a beneficiary and is notified by the company that a lost policy has been found, typically, only a certified death certificate and company claim form must be submitted to the insurer which found a policy.
“Life insurance offers individuals and families a layer of financial protection following the death of a loved one,” said Division of Insurance Commissioner Gary Anderson. “For families coming to terms with a loss, the Life Insurance Policy Locator is a valuable resource to assist them in their time of need.”
While the Life Insurance Policy Locator is an effective tool, consumers and their loved ones should still have the difficult conversations about life insurance before the inevitable occurs. Consider these tips from the Division of Insurance to make those conversations a little easier.
Consumers considering purchasing life insurance should:
- Review your needs and determine how much life insurance to buy. Consider your financial responsibility to your dependents and what expenses there might be after death.
- Get quotes from multiple companies and research each insurer to make sure it is reputable. Life insurance is a competitive marketplace, and much of that competition is focused on price. Compare similar policies from different companies to find which one is likely to give you the best value for your money.
- Never sign anything you don’t understand. If you are given illustrations or booklets, save these materials with your policy. Make sure you understand the guarantees in your policy and the surrender penalties if you choose to drop the policy at any time. Ask your agent or insurer about anything that is not clear to you.
Consumers who are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy should:
- Know whether they are the primary or contingent beneficiary. The primary beneficiary receives the policy benefit (a portion or whole, depending on whether or not there are other beneficiaries) if they outlive the policyholder. The contingent beneficiary receives proceeds if a primary beneficiary dies before the policyholder. Note that naming an individual as a beneficiary rather than part of an estate allows the beneficiary to receive the proceeds immediately, and generally without taxation. As part of an estate, the proceeds will typically go through probate with the rest of the assets and might be subject to estate tax.
- Know where the policy is and from which company it was purchased.
Once a policy is purchased, it should be regularly reviewed and updated. Keep up with changes to income and financial needs, and double-check that beneficiaries are still the same or whether they need to be updated. More information about life insurance, including a link to the Life Insurance Policy Locator, can be found on the Division’s website: https://www.mass.gov/life-insurance
About the Division of Insurance
The Division of Insurance is an agency within the Office of Consumer and Business Regulation. The primary mission of the Division is to monitor the solvency of its licensees in order to promote a healthy, responsive and willing marketplace for consumers who purchase insurance products. The Division is responsible for regulating Massachusetts’ $60 billion insurance industry and overseeing more than 1,600 licensed insurance companies and approximately 141,000 individual insurance producers.