Lost Policy Finder
The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) offers a free-of-charge service to assist families in locating unclaimed benefits on life insurance policies/certificates and annuity contracts/certificates insuring the life of, or owned by, a deceased immediate family member. The service is not available to individuals, companies, organizations or services that charge consumers a fee for making the request or for locating lost life insurance policies or annuity contracts.
How can I submit a request?
It is important first to read the full information below and use the provided tools to conduct your own search. You can then submit a request online using our Lost Policy Finder application.
Who may file a search request?
A search request may be filed by the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate or by a member of the deceased’s immediate family, which includes the deceased’s spouse, domestic partner, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, sibling, or closest living relative.
What do I need to submit a request?
You will need some basic information about the deceased, including date of birth, date of death and last known address. You will also need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate.
How can I get a copy of the certified death certificate if I don’t have one?
For information about acquiring a death certificate for deaths that occurred within the State of New York, visit the New York State Health Department.
If the death occurred outside of New York State, visit the website or contact the vital statistic office in the state or area where the death occurred.When requesting a death certificate, have the following information available: full name of deceased, sex of that person, date of death, place of death (city or town, county, state), relationship to requestor, the purpose for which the record is needed, requestor’s name and address, requestor’s driver’s license number and the requestor’s signature.
What happens to my request?
DFS will forward your search request to all New York licensed life insurance companies and fraternal benefit societies (“insurers”). New York licensed insurers that are incorporated or organized in the state of New York will perform searches of their electronic records to identify a policy, contract or certificate on which the deceased was the insured or owner, regardless of the state in which the policy, contract or certificate was issued. New York licensed insurers that are incorporated or organized in a state other than New York will only perform searches of their electronic records of policies, contracts and certificates delivered or issued for delivery in the state of New York.
How will I know if an insurer identified a life insurance policy/certificate or annuity contract/certificate on the deceased?
If an insurer identifies the existence of a life insurance policy/certificate or annuity contract/certificate on which the deceased was the insured, annuitant or owner and you are a beneficiary under the identified policy, contract or certificate, the insurer will directly contact you within 45 business days of receipt of the request from DFS.
What happens if an insurer identifies a life insurance policy/certificate or annuity contract/ certificate on the deceased but I am not the beneficiary?
Federal and state privacy laws limit the persons to whom an insurer may provide information relating to a life insurance policy/certificate or annuity contract/certificate. If the insurer is unable to provide you with information due to applicable privacy laws, the insurer will notify you that such is the case.
If the requestor is not the designated beneficiary of the life insurance policy/certificate or the annuity contract/certificate, or an appropriately authorized representative of the beneficiary of the identified policy, contract or certificate, the insurer will attempt to locate and contact the beneficiary listed in the insurer’s records. Policy or contract proceeds, if any, are payable to the beneficiary of record.
If I am the beneficiary on an identified policy, contract or certificate, what will I need to provide an insurer in order to receive payment?
Insurers may require you to provide additional information or to complete additional paperwork in order to process any benefits.
Will the Department of Financial Services contact me?
At the conclusion of the search process by all insurers, DFS will notify you whether a policy, contract or certificate has been identified by any insurer. However, such notification can only be provided to you if a valid email address was provided on the search request form.
What steps should I take to locate a policy, contract or certificate on my deceased family member before submitting a search request?
If you suspect that a deceased member of your immediate family was insured under, or owned, a life insurance policy/certificate or was the annuitant or owner of an annuity contract/certificate, but cannot locate the policy, contract or certificate, you may be able to locate such or identify the issuing insurer by performing the following steps:
- Review the deceased’s personal papers for an insurance policy/certificate or annuity contract/certificate. If a life insurance policy/certificate or annuity contract/certificate is located, contact the issuing insurer even if it appears that the policy, contract or certificate may not be in force. Also, review the application for insurance that may be attached to the policy or contract as some applications require that life insurance existing at the time of application be listed in the application. If an automobile, homeowner or renter’s insurance policy is located, contact the issuing company to determine if an affiliated company authorized to write life insurance issued a life insurance policy/certificate or annuity contract/certificate to the deceased. Additionally, review any such documents for names of agents or brokers who may have assisted the deceased with insurance needs.
- Review the deceased’s contacts listed in his/her address and telephone books or email accounts (where accessible) for names of insurance companies and insurance agents and brokers. Also, contact listed attorneys, accountants, investment professionals, other family members or close personal friends of the deceased to determine if the deceased discussed life insurance or investment matters with them.
- Contact the deceased’s last place of employment (or prior employers) to determine if there was insurance (individual or group) issued through the deceased’s employer. Note that with group life insurance and annuities purchased through an employer plan it is common for the employer, rather than the insurer, to maintain the life insurance or annuity records related to individual employees. So it is important to check with the deceased’s employer(s) even if the insurer says it has no record of life insurance coverage for the deceased.
- Review the deceased’s financial records for evidence of payment of life insurance premiums or annuity deposits. As life insurance premiums may be paid at various intervals (e.g., annually, quarterly, monthly) and deposits to annuity contracts may be irregular, records for the several years prior to death should be reviewed. In addition, since life insurance premiums and annuity deposits are generally paid by check or bank-account deductions or transfers (but may be paid in some instances by credit card), canceled checks, bank statements, credit card statements and other payment records should be reviewed.
- Contact the banks in which the deceased maintained accounts to determine if the deceased maintained a safe deposit box or had purchased a life insurance policy or an annuity contract through a representative at the bank.
- Review the deceased’s mail for a period of at least one year after the deceased’s death for premium notices, annual reports, privacy notices or other communications from an insurance company or agent or broker.
- Review the deceased’s income tax returns for the several years prior to death to determine if any interest income or interest expense associated with an insurance company was reported. Interest may be paid by an insurance company on some life insurance policies and annuity contracts and may be charged by an insurance company on policy loans.
- Contact unions or associations to which the deceased belonged in order to determine if life insurance was purchased through them.
- Contact insurance companies or insurance agencies located in the community where the deceased lived.
- Contact the New York State Comptroller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds (http://www.osc.state.ny.us/ouf/index.htm) to see if any unclaimed benefits from life insurance policies/certificates or annuity contracts may have been turned over to the State. Insurance companies (as well as many other businesses) are required by New York State law to surrender unclaimed or abandoned funds to the State. Under State law, however, since insurance unclaimed funds may not be surrendered to the State until many years after the deceased’s death, you should continue to check for unclaimed funds in the deceased’s name for an extended period of time.