After a loved one dies and the burial arrangements have been made, attention turns to settling the estate.
This process can be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. A mortgage, debts, final bills, and inheritance taxes can substantially decrease the value of an estate.
Even if the estate is not subject to inheritance tax, other expenses can have a major financial impact on surviving family members.
If the deceased had a life insurance policy, the pay-out will provide much-needed financial assistance.
Lack Of Communication…
Unfortunately, many family members do not discuss life insurance and other personal matters. When one of them dies the others may not know that a life insurance policy exists. In the UK, there is currently an estimated £2 billion in unclaimed life insurance money. It is always a good idea to search for evidence of this cover. Though this task can be time-consuming, the pay-out makes it worthwhile.
Life insurance and other assets can be separated from their owners due to change of address or failure to inform family members of their existence. Companies make different levels of effort to find customers when these assets are due to be claimed or paid.
Each company takes a different approach resulting in many assets being lost and many consumers falling out of touch with these providers. If you have recently lost a loved one, learn how to locate life cover the individual may have had.
The Unclaimed Assets Register
The UK life insurance industry does not have a tracing service so residents must do this work. The Unclaimed Assets Register (UAR) is a good place to start. Offered by Experian, it helps consumers locate lost assets and make contact with relevant providers to claim these.
Businesses submit customer data to the UAR on a regular basis in an attempt to help consumers find lost assets to which they are entitled. Consumers set up online accounts and search the UAR database for a fee of £25 per search.
Whenever a financial institution updates the UAR with new information, Experian reruns the search at no charge to identify relevant lost assets. The UAR helps businesses trace and reunite UK residents with lost assets and protect assets from fraud and identity theft. It helps consumers to quickly and easily search for these assets and re-establish contact with providers to recover unknown or forgotten life insurance policies and other money.
The Association of British Insurers
On its website, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) provides information and resources for tracing life insurance policies. In addition to using the UAR, the ABI recommends checking the bank account and credit card statements of the deceased for evidence that payments have been made for a life insurance policy.
Review documents covering at least a 12-month period because many consumers make premium payments annually. Contacting the accounting or legal professional used by the deceased may also prove helpful.
If the name of the insurance company is identified, the ABI member list provides contact information. If a life insurance policy document has been located but contact information for the insurer is incorrect or non-existent, the company may have changed its name.
The ABI recommends using the Policy Detective website to identify the current name of the company. Owned and operated by UK company Wellwood Adami Ltd., Policy Detective is free to use and has the primary purpose of reuniting UK residents with administrators of life and pension policies as well as bank and building society accounts.
Friendly Societies and Mutuals
Decades ago, many local friendly societies and mutuals offered savings products with low premiums that served as life insurance. Since that time, many have transferred their businesses or merged and no longer exist in their original form. The Association of Financial Mutuals maintains a register of these mergers and transfers that may help track down the benefit.
Contacting the Association of Friendly Societies (AFS) or using the Mutual Societies Registration may also prove helpful in locating closed mutuals and friendly societies. AFS also offers a search service called My Assets Reunited but not every Friendly Society is included and there may be a charge to recover benefits.
Mutual Societies Registration is an old Register of Friendly Societies that is now the Financial Conduct Authority and can be reached via telephone.