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Searching For Lost Insurance Policies

March 11, 2013

The New York State Department of Financial Services now offers a FREE service to assist families with locating unclaimed benefits on life insurance policies and annuity contracts owned by or insuring the life of a deceased family member.

A July, 2011 investigation by the NYS Department of Financial Services found that insurance companies did not regularly seek out beneficiaries to pay death benefits but rather waited until a claim was submitted. For many people, they may be unaware that they are named as a beneficiary on a relative’s insurance policy, so, they fail to file a claim and the policy never gets paid.

The investigation also found that insurance companies checked the Social Security Administration’s “death master file” to know when to stop making annuity payments if a customer died, but, the insurers did not use that same list to know when to start making insurance payments.

Regulators adopted an emergency regulation that required insurers to conduct searches at least quarterly and, in December, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation that made these regular searches of records permanent.

The law also requires insurance companies to search for multiple policies a customer may have purchased and notify the parent company, subsidiaries, and affiliates of a death so those entities can find policies where no claims have been filed. Additionally, they have to respond to consumer inquiries through the state’s new “Lost Policy Finder” to locate lost or unclaimed policies.

The “Lost Policy Finder” service through the NYS Department of Financial Services is available to the Executor or Administrator of the deceased person’s estate or a member of the deceased person’s immediate family: spouse, domestic partner, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, sibling, or closest living relative.

To complete an application to search for a lost or unclaimed policy, please go to