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How to find unclaimed life insurance policies

Known as "orphan policyholders," beneficiaries of unclaimed life insurance policies are often left in the dark on how to claim benefits.

Perhaps the policyholder, known as "the insured," didn't tell them of the existence of the life insurance policy or didn't tell them where to look for it after he died, or how to claim it.

Or the policyholder might have changed her address and failed to inform her agent or the insurance company.

The policy has been a waste of time, effort and money if, after all these years, the beneficiaries don't receive a single cent. If you are in the same boat or you know someone who is, here's how to find unclaimed life insurance policies.

Before you proceed to the insurance agent or company, ask the people closest to the policyholder. You can question the immediate members of the insured's family or anyone who might have an idea of the existence of the policy or where to find it. Some policyholders often put it in a safe or filing cabinet.

Look for documents connected or referring to the life insurance policy. Check bank or credit card statements of the insured. Search for entries in these records about premium payments for life insurance.

Consult the lawyer or the accountant of the deceased. They might have an idea where the policy is.

Prepare the necessary documents and talk to the representative of the insurance company if the life insurance was not through employment. Prepare a notarised copy of the death certificate of the deceased, and file a beneficiary claim with the insurance company. This starts the claim process. The company will investigate to validate the information you have provided, and to assess whether you have a legitimate claim and are entitled to the proceeds.

Leave your contact details with the agent or representative of the insurance company. Make sure that your contact details are updated with the insurance company so it will be easier for them to find you and update you about the status of your claim, and so they can tell you when to receive the proceeds from the unclaimed policy.