How To Find the Life Insurance Policy of a Deceased Parent

Sometimes a parent dies without letting us know whether or not they had life insurance. There are ways of discovering whether or not your deceased parent had life insurance and if you’re a beneficiary.

Written by Casey Bond / June 27, 2022

Quick Bites

  • There are ways you can find a parent’s life insurance policy, though you may not be a beneficiary.
  • There is a life insurance policy locator, but you should also do some basic snooping of mail, filing cabinets and safety deposit boxes.
  • You may also connect with a third-party who can help you out.

Alas, death is inevitable, and while we may not like speaking of it, it really helps to be prepared.

If you are a parent with financial dependents, you may want to make sure you have life insurance to support them upon your demise. Ideally, this is communicated among family members, but sometimes these things don’t come up. So what happens if a parent dies and you need to find out if they had a life insurance policy?

We’ll dive into life insurance and how to find out if your parent had a policy and whether or not you’re a beneficiary.

Inside this article

  1. What is a life insurance policy?
  2. Finding that policy
  3. Are you a beneficiary?
  4. What do I need to make a claim?

What is a life insurance policy?

A life insurance policy is a contract between an insurance company and a policyholder, in which the policyholder makes regular payments in exchange for a payout, known as a death benefit, upon their death. The payout is disbursed by the company to the policy holder’s beneficiaries, usually family and/or friends.[1]

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How can you find out if a parent or other person has a life insurance policy?

It’s not uncommon for a life insurance policy to go unclaimed.[2] Why? Well, for instance, if the beneficiary information is outdated, the insurance company might not be able to track you down. The insurance company may not even know that the policyholder died, since they’re usually informed once the beneficiary files a claim. Of course, you can’t file a claim for a policy you don’t know about.

So to find out if there’s an insurance policy for your parent floating around somewhere, try some of these tips suggested by the Insurance Information Institute:

Look for documentation

“The first place to look is their files,” says Tim Connon, founder of ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors, which works with burial insurance.

Check for safe deposit boxes at banks and delve into filing cabinets or any other place where they might have stored important paperwork. Also keep an eye out for any life insurance applications, mail from a life insurance company, bank statements that might show payments to a policy or tax returns showing interest income or loan interest from a cash value policy. Connon added that you may also find the business card belonging to the agent who helped buy the policy.

Contact professionals

“If the deceased parent had a financial advisor, go to them first,” says Jake Hill, chief executive officer of DebtHammer, which helps people get out of payday loan debt. “They will have all of their records on file and will be able to help direct you with what to do next.”

The same is true of lawyers, estate planners, or any other professionals your parent may have worked with.

If your parent had an existing homeowners or auto insurance policy, you can check with that company, since many insurers bundle insurance products. Also check with their former employers, as many companies offer life insurance as part of their benefits package. You may need to rifle through address books or mail in order to track down the right people.

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Reach out to state officials

If the above tactics don’t yield any results, Hill recommends checking with The National Association of Insurance Commissioners online life insurance policy locator.

This is best when you know a policy exists, but can’t find the details. When you put in a request, the NAIC will reach out to participating companies and have them search their records to see if your parent had a policy. If so, they’ll let you know if you are the beneficiary and/or authorized to receive information about the policy.

Finally, try searching your state’s unclaimed property department. This is where you can find unclaimed accounts with financial institutions and other companies that have been turned over to the state. If you find unclaimed property, you can file a claim to have it returned to you.

Consider hiring a third party

There are some private search services that can help you find any missing insurance policies for a fee. They’ll contact insurance companies on your behalf to find out if your parent held any policies there.

How to find out if you’re a beneficiary

Once you’ve tracked down a life insurance policy and have the policy number, you’ll be able to discover who the beneficiaries are, Connon says.

If you find out that you’re the beneficiary to a life insurance policy, you’ll need to gather some information in order to file a claim and get your money.

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What do I need to make a life insurance claim?

Once you’re ready to file a claim, you can let the insurance company know and they’ll provide instructions. Generally, you’ll need to provide the following:[3]

  • The policyholder’s full name (including their maiden name, if applicable)

  • The policyholder’s Social Security number

  • A death certificate

  • Proof of your identity and relationship to the policyholder

The best thing to do, however, is make sure you have these conversations before you die. No matter how uncomfortable it might make you, death is the inevitable counter to life. Make it easier on your loved ones.

Article Sources
  1. Guardian. “What is life insurance, and how does it work?”
  2. Insurance Information Institute. “Unclaimed life insurance benefits.”
  3. Lincoln Heritage Funeral Advantage. “How To Find Out If Someone Has Life Insurance.”

About the Author

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Casey Bond

Casey Bond is an award-winning writer who has been covering personal finance for more than a decade. Her work has also appeared on Yahoo!,, Fortune, MSN, Business Insider, The Motley Fool, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, TheStreet, and more. She is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor.

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