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How to find out if someone had a life insurance policy

SUMMARY

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is always difficult. What makes matters worse is if you unexpectedly have to sort out financial costs left behind. Life insurance would take care of those obligations so that you have space to grieve. But how could you know whether your loved one had a life insurance policy before they passed? This article shows you 5 ways to find out.

By Mark Cluett
Director of Content
7 min read
IN THIS ARTICLE

You may have recently lost a loved one and are now dealing with the unexpected costs of a death in your immediate family. You and your family could be facing costly funeral expenses alongside the responsibility of settling your loved one’s outstanding debts.

If you’re unsure if your loved one had savings or insurance, how will you deal with the new costs of living without your loved one?

There’s a chance your loved one may have had a life insurance policy, but how do you know if it’s not laid out in a will? There are a few ways you can determine if your loved one had a life insurance policy. We’ll review how you can find your deceased loved one’s policy in this article and provide you with crucial information about a helpful organization to aid you in your search.

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Look for your loved one’s life insurance policy yourself

When trying to find out if a loved one had a life insurance policy, it’s easiest to start the search yourself. Here are 5 simple steps you can take to search for it on your own:

1. Check bank statements or records

Start by reviewing your loved one’s bank information and financial records. Look through them to see if your loved one sent monthly or automatic payments to a life insurance company.

You can also check with credit card companies to see if your loved one made a payment arrangement with a life insurance company.

These are signs they may have been paying a life insurance policy premium, and the name of the carrier will give a you head start on where to inquire for the life insurance claim.

2. Check the mail

Check their mail and keep a lookout for new pieces of mail after your loved one’s passing. They may posthumously receive their notices for premiums, dividends, policy services, or monthly statements from a life insurance provider.

3. Check files and storage

You should also check your deceased loved one’s storage locations. Scour your loved one’s known storage spaces for any proof they could have of their life insurance policy, like a printed version of the policy or receipts for payments.

Keep in mind that storage areas can include:

  • Filing cabinets
  • Desk drawers
  • A safe
  • A safety deposit box

Suppose you cannot get inside the safety deposit box yourself. In that case, it is as simple as taking the death certificate and an executor’s testament to the bank where the safety deposit is. Spouses of the deceased usually will only require a death certificate and their marriage certificate to access a safety deposit box.

Make sure to check your loved one’s address book. Either in paper form or stored on a mobile device, address books and phone contacts may hold hints of your loved one’s term life insurance policy, such as the phone number or email address of a life insurance agent or company.

Lastly, examine your loved one’s tax returns, and make sure to even look over your loved one’s income tax returns from prior years. You’re looking to see if they have made any claims for interest collected on their life insurance policies.

4. Check with attorneys, accountants

You can also reach out to the deceased’s financial and legal professionals to find information about their potential life insurance policy. If your loved one had a lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor, reach out and ask them if they know if your deceased loved one had purchased any life insurance policies.

5. Check with their employer

You should also check with your loved one’s place of employment. They may have had group life coverage or other policies purchased through work.

You can either search for a loved one's life insurance policy yourself or try contacting the OLHI.
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Finding a life insurance policy through the OLHI

If you cannot find information about your loved one’s possible life insurance policy through the above methods, don’t stop there. Your last resort should be to contact the OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance (OLHI).

The OLHI is one of the most helpful resources in Canada to help you search for the lost life insurance policy of a deceased relative.

It’s Canada’s self-governing insurance complaint resolution service. As such, it’s committed to evaluating various insurance products, including life, disability, extended health care & dental insurance, travel insurance, and insurance investment product complaints.

OLHI was founded in 2002. It operates under the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) to offer a free and unbiased dispute resolution service between consumers and insurance companies.

Both life and health insurance companies are mandated by law to maintain an impartial dispute resolution service. While 99% of Canadian insurance companies are OLHI members, most of OLHI’s Board are Directors that do not work in the life and health insurance industry. OLHI offers its free and impartial dispute resolution services in English and French to any Canadian consumer whose insurance company is an OLHI member.

How to find a life insurance policy with the OLHI

Before the OLHI can search for a policy, you have to search for the policy yourself first. This alone is why they are your last-resort option.

If you can’t find your loved one’s policy, certain criteria must be met for the OLHI to help:

  • You must have some indication or proof that a policy exists
  • It must be less than two years and more than three months since your loved one’s death
  • The OLHI must find it reasonable for them to perform the search

To find a life insurance policy, the OLHI sends a search request to OLHI-member insurance companies. While 99% of all life and health insurance companies are members, the OLHI cannot retrieve any policy with a non-member in their search. They will also not find a policy purchased outside of Canada because their member companies are strictly Canadian.

What happens if the OLHI finds a life insurance policy? 

If a policy is found, your loved one’s insurance company will contact you, but only then. Companies can only provide insurance information to the executor, lawyer, beneficiary, or heir of a deceased person. The OLHI may not find group policies in a search and encourage everyone to contact their loved one’s former employers and associations instead.

Informing your loved ones you have a life insurance policy

Life insurance protection is one of the most considerate financial products you can buy. But how helpful can your life insurance policy be if your loved ones or beneficiaries don’t even know it exists?

If you have taken out a life insurance policy on yourself, make sure to tell your loved ones about your policy. Give them detailed information about where they can find what they’ll need in case you pass prematurely. Please don’t force them to go through all these steps to track it down after you’re gone.

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The information above is intended for informational purposes only and is based on PolicyAdvisor’s own views, which are subject to change without notice. This content is not intended and should not be construed to constitute financial or legal advice. PolicyAdvisor accepts no responsibility for the outcome of people choosing to act on the information contained on this website. PolicyAdvisor makes every effort to include updated, accurate information. The above content may not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, termination, and other provisions of the policies described, some of which may be material to the policy selection. Please refer to the actual policy documents for complete details. In case of any discrepancy, the language in the actual policy documents will prevail. All rights reserved.

If something in this article needs to be corrected, updated, or removed, let us know. Email editorial@policyadvisor.com.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • You can check the mail, files, storage, and a workplace for a loved one's life insurance policy
  • The OLHI can help find your loved one’s policy details
  • It’s vital to inform your beneficiaries of your life insurance coverage

By Mark Cluett
Director of Content
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