What to do if a policy is 'held hostage'

Feb 20, 2012

People should be sure to let their family know where the life insurance policy they own is.

In some instances a life insurance company may hold a person's life insurance policy because the family was unaware a policy existed or where it was located. For this reason, it's important that policyholders inform their loved ones about some of the essential details regarding their plans.

Insure.com said while there's no state or national database of life insurance policies, there are websites that may help find the location of a deceased relative's policy. Dan Cotter, principal and director of risk management at financial services company Rehmann said a forensic accountant may be able to help as well.

"I've seen death claims where the husband has purchased insurance and named a nephew or a charity as a second beneficiary and the wife didn't know," Cotter said, adding that the accountant could sort out situations where there was a lack of communication.

Insurance.com said when looking for a life insurance policy, people can check a database held by the state comptroller's office. It would also help to call around some of the bigger insurance companies who may not necessarily know the person has passed away. 

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