Missing Life Insurance Policy Benefit Search
|Life insurance companies are among
the largest holders of unclaimed money. Generally it is the job of the
beneficiary to notify the insurer of a policy owner's death. There is no central repository or clearinghouse
for unclaimed life insurance policies, and virtually no effort is made
to find lost beneficiaries.
More than one-quarter of all life insurance policy benefits go unclaimed on death of the insured, due to long dormancy periods and because family members aren't always aware a policy exists.
In addition to unclaimed policy benefits, many policyholders and heirs may be entitled to an unexpected windfall - demutualization compensation. Demutualization is the process of converting a mutual life insurance company owned by policyholders, into a publicly traded stock company owned by shareholders, pursuant to a plan of conversion approved by government regulators.
As a growing number of mutual life insurance companies - including MetLife, John Hancock, Prudential and others - have converted to stock ownership, millions of current and former policyholders and heirs are now entitled to receive stock and cash, in addition to policy benefits.
The amount paid to each policyholder is based on a number of factors, including length of time the policy has been in force, policy face and total premiums paid. For many policyholders and heirs the windfall arising from demutualization can be substantial, but millions have failed to come forward and claim their share.
When John Hancock demutualized, it did not have current addresses for 400,000 policyholders. Prudential could not locate 1.2 million policyholders, and 60 million MetLife shares arising from its demutualization went unclaimed. Contact efforts were unsuccessful, due to name changes after marriage or divorce, unreported changes of address, expired postal forwarding orders and non-current beneficiary information.
By law, unclaimed demutualization compensation is remitted to the custody of a government trust account until claimants come forward. Current and former policyholders and their heirs - the majority of whom are unaware they're entitled to unclaimed stock and/or cash - should initiate a database search.