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How do I find out if someone had life insurance?

People take out life insurance policies with the intention of leaving behind money to support their loved ones. However, if a death is unexpected, those loved ones may not know the policy existed or that they’re the beneficiaries of it. So, how can you know if someone had a life insurance policy?

Usually, it’s the responsibility of the executor of the will to search for any life insurance policy the deceased held. If there is no will, it’s the duty of the appointed administrator of the estate. Executors and administrators are best placed to search for insurance policies because they have a grant of probate, the death certificate, and the deceased’s personal identity documents, all of which may be needed in the hunt. However, next of kin and potential beneficiaries can also perform searches if they have the documents required.

Some cases are straightforward: the deceased’s will mentions the policy or they’ve left behind policy documents or a letter from the insurer (typically kept with other important documents like birth certificates and passports).

Executors and administrators also have access to the deceased’s bank account statements or can request these from the bank. They can comb through statements for monthly premium payments to an insurer. While the records of these payments won’t give you the policy number, they’ll point you to the insurer, which will be able to provide information about the policy.

If you don’t stumble upon any documents, you can also contact insurers separately and ask if they hold a policy in the deceased’s name.

You should also contact the deceased’s employer to see if they were covered by a Death in Service policy. While these policies may be less generous than full life insurance policies, they can also provide important financial assistance to survivors and should be claimed.

If all that sounds too onerous or you’ve exhausted those options, you can apply to the Unclaimed Assets Register. For a £25 fee, you can find financial records for the deceased. But while all term life insurance policies will be recorded on the register, whole of life policies, which include over 50s policies, aren’t added until the policyholder’s 100th birthday. However, unclaimed life insurance policies don’t expire so it could be worth reapplying to the register a few years later if you don't turn anything up in the first search.

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