In answer to Nicks question, This is a serious issue. It does not fall along the lines of vanishing premium which is generally when the dividends (which are not guaranteed) are used to pay off the annual premium. This can happen and is legit altho many policies were sold that way and poliucy holders were not adivised that it is not guaranteed.
You fell victim to Churning which is in part using and existing policies cash values to purchase another policy or using an existing policies dividends to pay for another policy. The latter which is not as traumatic as the first but still not a good business practice.
There were a number of larger insurance companies who made a general practice of churning business and many were involved in class action law suits. You are probably a party to this and should have received notice at the time. I do not know if you still have any recourse or not. Pru, Met and John Hancock are a few of the more prominant offenders. Best of Luck!
Here's are some tips:
First, check out WWW.POLICYLOCATOR.COM. They have a large database of insurance applicants available to the public and the cost is relatively cheap considering the value of what they might uncover. You will need to provide a death certificate and a notarized application - probably a good thing from a privacy perspective.
If that doesn't work try:
If the house and car were insured, start with the local agents who sold those policies. Insurance companies usually keep track of customer names and Social Security numbers.
If the policy was active, a premium notice eventually will come in the mail. Look for cancelled insurance checks.
Private firms specialize in finding lost life insurance for a fee. Search the Internet for "Life Benefits Search" or "Lost Life Insurance Finder."
Try this POLICY LOCATOR service from e-Services.
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The decedent's name is searched against our Policy Locator database.
It contains over 110 million records representing inquiries submitted on individually underwritten life insurance applications processed during the last nine years.
The data is collected by MIB, an insurance trade association who operates the industry's largest fraud detection service used by virtually every North American carrier in the underwriting of life insurance applications.
Application activity often leads to policies - matches against this database are immediately identified and returned to you. Policy Locator provides an efficient and effective alternative to labor intensive manual searches. Our extensive historical archives can trace paths from merged and acquired companies, revealing the identity of the newly named parent. And our industry-leading search technology produces the best possible results.
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As an added value, we'll send along our "Policy Locator Research Primer" which provides you with an extensive list of additional due diligence hints and tips.
It Happens Every Day
Life insurance is often purchased to protect against loss of income, but policyholders commonly fail to inform the beneficiary(s) of the policy's existence. As a result, many policies go unclaimed based on long dormancy periods or lack of awareness. Insurance companies would like to distribute what is rightfully due, but the responsibility to claim benefits lies with the survivors. It is estimated that over $1 billion of insurance proceeds currently could be claimed by beneficiaries from North American insurance companies..
For more information see www.SteveShorr.com/life.htm
Check the bank account statements for egular withdrawls... it may be a few years back for 20 year pay policies. Do follow up from there. Check with family friends, sometime the owner might have discussed it with them.
Call the suspect companies and ask.
Check www.SteveShorr.com/life.htm and there are links to several articles on this question and the MIB locator there.
Things may have changed since I worked in insurance (1997-1998), but generally speaking the existence of an insurance policy could only be confirmed to the insured, the policy owner, or a beneficiary, or someone with power of attorney for one of them.
Yes, if you have the persons info and know what company he may have been insured with, you can call the insurance company claims department and ask. They will only tell you if he was insured and nothing more without evidence that you are privvy to that info. Also, call his insurance agent and ask.
Try the suggestions at these links
There is no database that will give you that information. The only way to know is the ask the insurance agent or to find a copy of a policy or billing statement in the deceadants records.
Check with The Center for Life Insurance Disputes.
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