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Starting the Search
"How can I find out if my husband had life insurance I don't know about," is a common question many surviving spouses have. Life insurance might be bought through a payroll deduction at work or accompany some other invesmtent such as an IRA or stock purchase. It is common for the policyholder to not disclose the policy to an heir, even a wife. For some, it might seem like bad luck. For others, the policy might have been established even before marriage.
If you are looking for a policy, start with the most common areas to locate a policy. Look through old tax returns to see if dividends were paid on whole life insurance policies. These would be disclosed as 1099 income. Call old employer's from your husband and see if group life insurance was offered. Unions and other professional organizations might offer group policies as well. Once you know where to go, you can file a death benefits claim.
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Expanding the Search
Expanding the search to find out if your husband has life insurance you didn't know about means looking at all financial advisers. You may have looked over the tax returns, but call your tax adviser. He might have some insights, perhaps he made a referral out at some point to a life insurance agent. Speak with stock brokers and bankers as well. Life insurance is an ancillary service offered at these financial institutions. The representative at these institutions will be able to search their databases using your husband's Social Security Number. If you are unable to locate anything but still wonder, "How can I find out if my husband had life insurance I don't know about?" there are still other options.
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One of the problems with finding insurance policies is there is no central database for all policies. However, MIB Solutions maintains a database with more than 170 million records. The records aren't of policies in effect, but are instead of policies applied for since 1997. If your husband applied for life insurance and it was sent through underwriting at any point in the applications process, which it most likely did, then there is a record of it. This information lets you know what insurance companies to call and make inquiries with. The policy might have been denied, lapsed or expired. This at least gives you a solid resource to call specific companies when seeking life insurance policies.
If a policy was created prior to 1997, you might check your state's controller's office, sometimes called a comptroller, or the state treasury department. There is an unclaimed asset division that holds things like life insurance policies proceeds, brokerage accounts and bank accounts in trust for the owner or rightful beneficiary when a financial institution loses contact with the owner. As long as the policy was paid in full, it would be effective and you could claim the funds.
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- Insure, Lost Policies: http://www.insure.com/articles/lifeinsurance/lost-policies.html
- MSN Money, How to find lost Life Insurance Policies: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourLife/HowToFindLostLifeInsurancePolicies.aspx
- MIB Solutions, Lost Life Insurance: http://www.mibsolutions.com/lost-life-insurance/