How to Find Out if Someone Had Life Insurance in the UK

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By Crispin O'Toole-Bateman

on Friday 6 September 2019

Woman helping man on a tablet and phone to insurer

Many people like to keep their finances close to their chest. In the UK, it is still very much a social taboo to discuss personal finance, even with close relatives.

Unfortunately, this can lead to situations where someone dies without properly informing their loved ones of their life insurance policy – and without knowing the relevant insurance company and policy number, it can lead to the life insurance going completely unclaimed.

Can you find out if someone has life insurance?

Happily, yes, you can. It might take a little effort and investigative work, but it is possible to make sure that the sum that you are due is correctly paid.

How to find insurance policies for the deceased

Uncovering any insurance policy is part of the remit of the executor of the will or, in the case of an intestate estate, the administrator of the estate. Armed with the grant of probate and death certificate (as well as personal identity documents), it’s possible to discover a great deal about a deceased person’s finances, though it can be time consuming.

Option #1 – The Unclaimed Assets Register (UAR)

For a £25 fee, you can apply to the Unclaimed Assets Register to discover if there are any financial records for the deceased that have gone untouched.

Any term-based life insurance policies should be immediately reported, however whole of life policies (which can include over 50s cover) are not added to the register until the 100th birthday of a policyholder.

Life insurance policies never go ‘out of date’, and you can reapply to the register in years to come if an initial search during probate doesn’t yield results.

Option #2 – Finding a lost insurance policy for free

As executor, you will have full access to the deceased’s bank account statements (if you cannot find these, you can request them from the bank). Checking through these to see if any regular payments go out can flag up a monthly premium payment for life insurance.

While this will not give you the policy number, it might tell you what insurance company was providing the cover. Contact them directly and explain the situation – they will be able to help.

You might also come across a letter from the life insurance company (it happens), or some policy documentation. People do tend to keep important documents together, so if you find bank details or a passport in a certain location, it’s worth investigating further.

Many employers, especially in the public sector, provide Death in Service policies. While these are typically less extensive than full life insurance, they will still pay out to the right beneficiaries and should be claimed! The deceased’s employer will have full details of this and any pension owed.

With the correct authorisation given to you through the grant of probate (or letters of administration), you can spend the time contacting insurers generally and asking if they have a policy for the deceased. Depending on the company, the service you receive may vary, but most life insurance companies in the UK are extremely helpful.

Additionally, it’s worth giving us a call at Unite Life. If we have been involved in the policy in any way, then we will be able to help you trace it!

As one of the largest advisory services in the UK, our database of customers is vast and there’s a good chance your loved one’s insurance was arranged through us and we will find any insurance policies for the deceased.

Remember, the data is protected, so you will need to provide proof of your identity as well as the death certificate and grant of probate to receive an answer to an unsolicited query. Be prepared to spend weeks in investigation if you wish to be thorough.

What to do when someone dies

Losing a family member is never easy, and without careful probate planning, surviving loved ones could face several daunting and time-consuming tasks that must legally be undertaken in the event of a death.

Rather than leaving these stressful responsibilities to your family members during an already difficult time, why not let Unite Wills take care of it all?

As a member of Unite, you and your family can benefit from the fixed fee probate services offered by Unite Wills.

From handling the complex process of probate to administering the estate and distributing it in line with your wishes, Unite Wills can do everything for you on a fixed fee basis (unlike many other companies that charge variable probate rates and fees).

This means that you can rest easy knowing that your assets will be protected and exactly how much will be taken from your estate to cover the cost when you eventually pass away, rather than being left in the dark and having the uncertainty of a variable fee.

See Unite Wills’ probate cost comparison page today for more information.

What happens to unclaimed life insurance?

The truth is, it just sits there and waits for a beneficiary to come along and claim it!

There’s no time limit on claiming life insurance. It doesn’t need to be done during probate, and not even in the decade to come. You can claim life insurance at any time after the deceased’s passing and you’ll get the full amount of the payout in all cases except for some whole of life policies.

With these, if the policyholder died short of their 100th birthday without the insurer being informed, then unpaid premiums will be deducted from the final payout until the the claim (or date of centenary).

Remember, inflation in the intervening years may not be too kind to the policy value. If a significant amount of time has passed, the real-world worth of the old policy may be minor.

Do life insurance companies contact beneficiaries? If not, why?

The onus is on the executor of the estate to tell a life insurance company that one of their policyholders has passed away. The only way they can know if a life assurance policy should be paid out is if they are informed of the death, and that information has to come from somewhere.

There is an argument that flags should be waved if the premiums suddenly stop being paid due to the closure of the deceased’s bank account, and while that is one signal that the policyholder has died, unfortunately there are many other reasons for a direct debit being cancelled – from financial difficulty through to a policyholder simply deciding they no longer want the insurance.

Some life insurance companies, however, have made a move towards being proactive and have a team of people who regularly search the death register to match against their policyholders and then notify the beneficiaries – this is an additional level of service however, and not at all normal practice in the UK.

What happens to life insurance with no beneficiary?

A life insurance policy does not need a named beneficiary to be claimed. The executor of the will or administrator of an intestate estate can claim the policy and have it become part of the overall estate.

A huge number of life insurance policies are set up this way.

Protecting your loved ones – making sure investigation is never needed

The easiest way to stop your children struggling after your death, searching for answers to ‘how do I find out if my parents had life insurance?’ is to be open about your policy! Tell your family of your life insurance, put the paperwork in an obvious place, and write full details of the policy, the insurer and your policy number into your will! It’s as easy as that!

After all – you took out life insurance for them; it makes no sense to hide it!

Life insurance with Unite Life

At Unite Life we have a dedicated team of advisors who can help you with any questions you have regarding life insurance, and who will do everything they can to assist you in finding a life insurance policy for your deceased relative. Fill in our contact form or give us a call for free today!

08000 106 194

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