Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 20, 2013

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It is not easy to track down life insurance policies or benefits paid as there is no “central registry” of all life insurance in force or paid out. But these are the steps FreeAdvice.com recommends:

(1) Go through the deceased’s cancelled checks to see if he or she was paying any insurance premuims, and if so, contact the insurance company or agency the payments were made to.

(2) Go through his or her papers to see if there were any records of life insurance with other companies, and contact them; even if s/he had stopped paying premium years ago there may have been “paid up” benefits.

(3) Contact his or her employer, and any employer he or she had retired from. Very often employers provide or offer “group” or voluntary life insurance.

(4) Contact associations he or she was a member of to determine if it provided any life insurance to members as a benefit, or sponsored any plans he or she may have purchased — the organization will probably refer you to the carrier or broker involved.

(5) If your father’s death was due to an accident, there may be additional benefits through membership in organizations such as the Auto Club, or as an accidental death benefit if, for example, the death was on a plane crash and the deceased bought the tickets on a credit card providing such insurance. In addition, some organizations offer members life insurance or a far less expensive (and useful — unless the circumstances fit — coverage known as AD&D or Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance.

(6) There also is something known as Credit Life Insurance, and if a person buys that as an add on to credit cards or other financings, such as car loans, it may provide life insurance regardless of cause of death.

(7) You may also want to try to contact the Medical Information Bureau (MIB Group, Inc.) It is an association of over 95% of US and Canadian life and health insurance companies that is based in Massachusetts — its website is http://www.mib.com — that for the past 100 years has receives a record of applications for insurance that were made, and inquiries received by member companies. It maintains records of such applications for 7 years. Perhaps the executor of the estate may be able to learn if there was any application filed with a member company in that period.