So what life event drove you to buy life insurance? Marriage? First kid? Fourth kid? Losing your own parent?

For me it was “all of the above.” My husband and I celebrated the birth of each of our children by buying more life insurance. He likes to joke that we are worth more dead than alive. Not funny, Sweetie, not funny.

I have blogged before about the ins and outs of naming beneficiaries for your life insurance policies (Naming a Beneficiary for Your Life Insurance Policy). How do you make sure your carefully chosen beneficiaries actually get the payout?

First and foremost, don’t depend on the insurance company to contact your beneficiary. Believe it or not but insurance companies are not obligated to contact a beneficiary about a life insurance policy they are holding. In fact, hundreds of millions of dollars in life insurance payouts goes unclaimed by the beneficiaries every single year.

So what should you do? The obvious–give the beneficiaries the information they need (the insurance company name and contact information, benefit amount, and where a physical copy of the policy can be located) BEFORE you die. Like, right after you make the beneficiary designation. The payout is going into a trust? Make sure the trustee has that information.

Following your death, the beneficiaries will need to contact the insurance company and produce an original death certificate.

Grim topic, to be sure. Here’s another scenario. What if you think you may be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, but you don’t have the policy information? What can you do?

Check with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). They have an online life insurance policy locator at

Also, when an insurance company cannot find beneficiaries, it has to transfer the payout money to a state unclaimed-funds account. If the policy you’re looking for is more than a few years old, search the unclaimed funds website for the deceased’s home state (or any state the deceased lived in over the years).

Think this is a far-fetched scenario? Think again. According to a study by Consumer Reports, 1 out of every 600 people is the beneficiary of an unclaimed life insurance policy, with an average benefit of $2,000.

Which life events have inspired you to buy life insurance? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Disclaimer: This website is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this website you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.