Old life insurance polices found after a friend or relative has died may still have some value depending on the type of life insurance that was purchased. The most common type of life insurance policy that retains value is a whole life, universal life or some other type of permanent life insurance that has a cash value. You can check the value of an old life insurance policy by first making sure you have a copy of the policy or the policy number.
Review the statements for the life insurance policy, if they are available. Most statements for life insurance policies with a cash value are sent yearly and include the surrender value of the policy. The surrender value is the total value of the policy if it is cashed out.
Locate the name of the life insurance company or the agency that originally sold the life insurance policy. This information can be found on the declarations page (first page) of the policy or on some other documentation included with the life insurance policy.
Contact the insurance company or agency and find out if the policy is still in force. If the premium was continually paid on time the policy will still be in force or active.
Ask the agency or insurance company representative for the cash value of the policy. Alternatively, you can ask for an in-force illustration. An in-force illustration is a computer-generated projection of the current and future cash values of the policy.
Review the information you have gathered about the life insurance policy and decide whether to maintain or cash out the policy.
Life insurance policies with a cash value may earn dividends that can increase the value of the policy or pay the premiums if they are no longer being paid. You may need to provide personal information, such as your Social Security number, to verify that you are the policy owner.
If you stop paying on the policy, it will lose value and may lapse for non-payment. Cash values can be depleted if premium payments are no longer made on the policy.