How To Find Out If Somebody Had Life Insurance Before They Died

By Vicki Coleman

When you take out life insurance, it’s not a moment you’re likely to make a song and dance about. You’re not going to publish it on your socials or make an announcement over dinner, but it’s a good idea to mention it to someone (ideally, your beneficiaries) or there’s a risk of the policy going unclaimed.

There are approximately £50bn of unclaimed assets in the UK, at least £2bn of which are life insurance policies[1].

The pot of “dormant assets” has grown so large that the government has recently launched a consultation on which “good causes” this unclaimed money should be spent on. While the priority for this money is for it to be reunited with its rightful owners, some of the assets have remained unclaimed for decades.

If a relative or loved one has died recently, you could find yourself in the position of trying to find out if they had an active life insurance policy at the time of their passing. What are your options?

Do a bit of digging

While financial providers have a regulatory obligation to try to reconnect with holders – or in the case of life insurance, the beneficiaries – of “dormant” accounts, the £50bn figure suggests they have some difficulty in doing so.

So the onus is on you, as the appointed administrator of someone’s estate, to do a bit of digging. Here are some steps to work through:

·       Look for the original policy document. People tend to keep important documents together, so start your search by looking for a document organiser.

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

·       Check old bank statements. Check through the deceased’s bank statements to see if any regular outgoing payments are for life insurance. While it won’t give you the policy number, if you can find out the insurance provider, that will be a great help.

·       Contact other insurers. If your search for some evidence of life cover comes up dry, you might want to speculatively contact insurers and ask if they have a policy for the deceased. A full list of Association of British Insurers (ABI) members can be found at www.abi.org.uk.

·       Speak to their friends. If your relative or loved one had a close group of friends they would regularly meet up with, it’s worth just checking in with them to see if life cover ever came up as a topic of conversation.

The ‘good’ news is there’s no time frame for claiming life insurance, so don’t give up hope too quickly.

Unclaimed Assets Register

Until recently, claimants had the option of searching the Unclaimed Assets Register for lost and unclaimed assets including life cover. For just £25, users could search its database of 4.5mn records from around 80 financial providers.

However, Experian made the decision to close it in August 2022[2].

Several newer sites have been set up in response to the closure, however, their database is not as big as Experian.

Gretel is free for consumers to use who are over the age of 18 and a resident of the UK. All you need to do is register your details and it will continue to keep searching as more records are added.

Currently, it has around £3bn of assets on its platform and will keep searching as more records are added to its database. It’s worth a go, even if its limited database doesn’t offer any promises.

Making a claim

If your detective work yields some results, it’s important to note that only the person legally entitled to administer the estate will be able to take that inquiry further.

To get the wheels in motion with the insurance provider, you’ll need to provide:

·       The policyholder’s name

·       The 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 advise you on your next steps.

Don’t expect a letter from the insurer

It’s important to be as proactive as possible in the weeks and months after someone has died to find out if they had any life cover.

While insurers are getting better at informing beneficiaries that they could be due a payout, they can only do so once they know a policyholder has died.

If nobody has told them, they would need to search the death register to match against their policyholders. You might assume this is part of their responsibility as a life insurance provider, but, rightly or wrongly, there is no obligation.

So, if you have any suspicions that the recently deceased was the type of person to take out life insurance, you should act on them. You or other beneficiaries could stand to lose thousands of pounds if you don’t.

Don’t make the same mistake

If you’ve had to go through the rigmarole of getting to the bottom of finding out if someone had life insurance before they died, ensure your dependents don’t have to go through the same painstaking process.

To avoid any issues upon your death, it is very important that you leave a will. Include clear instructions regarding your life insurance, as well as making sure your loved ones know of the policy and who it is with.

First things first, however, you need to make sure you have your life cover in place. Here at QuoteSearch, we make it easy for you to get life cover at a competitive price.

We don’t have any favourite suppliers – it’s all about getting the best cover for you. To compare your free life insurance quotes from leading providers, click here.

[1] https://www.ft.com/content/e3e91313-fc53-495b-9281-0e80096c0a4b

[2] https://www.which.co.uk/news/article/experian-to-close-tracing-service-heres-how-to-search-for-lost-cash-axNvM2q3Wi9o