Finding Lost UK Life Insurance Policies
Time seems to stand still when a loved one dies but there is much to be done.
After making funeral and burial arrangements, it is time to go through the belongings of the deceased and settle the estate, which can be a complex and expensive process.
Final bills, a mortgage balance, debts, and inheritance tax can drastically reduce the estate value.
If the estate does not meet the threshold for inheritance tax, one expense is avoided. However, others can put surviving loved ones into financial distress. The payout from a life insurance policy would be useful during this time.
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Many of those who do never tell their loved ones about it. If the policyholder dies, surviving beneficiaries will not be aware of the cover. The amount of unclaimed life insurance benefits in the UK is estimated at £2 billion. Searching for a share of this is recommended and though this may take time, the payout can be worth the effort.
Lack of communication with other family members or a change of address can cause a life insurance policy to become separated from its owner. Insurance companies take different steps to locate customers when life policy benefits are eligible for claim or payout.
The varying approaches and different extent of efforts result in lost assets and cause many policyholders to lose touch with their insurance providers. Family members who have recently lost a beloved should know how to search for life insurance cover that the person may have purchased.
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Unclaimed Assets Register
Since the life insurance industry in the UK does not offer a tracing service, UK citizens must assume this role. A good place for them to begin looking for missing policies is the Unclaimed Assets Register, or UAR. This service is offered by Experian to help UK residents find lost assets and reach out to the providers to make claims.
Businesses do their part by regularly providing UAR with customer data. To find a lost asset, a consumer establishes an online account and pays £25 per search of the UAR database.
Experian reruns saved searches at no charge to consumers after a financial institution adds new information to the UAR. This service has helped many businesses and consumers find each other to reunite lost assets with their inherited owners.
The UAR also protects assets from identity theft and fraud. Consumers can quickly search for money, life insurance policies, and other assets to which they are entitled and get in touch with providers to recover these.
Mutuals and Friendly Societies
Several decades ago, savings products featuring low premiums were offered by mutuals and friendly societies as forms of life insurance. Many of these companies have merged or transferred their business and are no longer operating in the same form. A register of the transfers and mergers is maintained by the Association of Financial Mutuals. This may prove helpful when trying to locate a life insurance policy.
A closed friendly society or mutual may also be found by using the Mutual Societies Registration or making contact with the Association of Friendly Societies (AFS). My Assets Reunited is a search service provided by the AFS for this purpose.
However, it does not include every friendly society and charges may be imposed for benefit recovery. The old Mutual Societies Registration that was a Register of Friendly Societies is now the Financial Services Authority, which can be contacted via telephone.
The Association of British Insurers
The website of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) features resources and information for life insurance policy searches. The ABI recommends using the UAR and checking credit card and bank account statements of the deceased to find evidence of life insurance premium payments.
Since many consumers pay premiums annually, at least 12 months of these documents should be reviewed. A call to the legal or accounting professional used by the deceased may also reveal the presence of a life insurance policy.
If the insurance company name is found, contact information may be obtained from the ABI member list. If the policy is discovered but the provider contact information cannot be found or is incorrect, the company may have a new name.
The Policy Detective website is recommended by the ABI to find the current name. This site is owned and managed by Wellwood Adami Ltd., a UK company, and is free to the public. Its primary purpose is to reunite residents of the UK with building society accounts, bank accounts, and life and pension policy administrators.