Ethics Center: Sales & Marketing

Be a Hero: Help Your Clients Find Lost Life Insurance Policies

Everyone wants to be a hero, right? Now financial advisors can score big points with their clients by helping them find lost life insurance policies. And better yet, they can render assistance by simply referring clients to a free locator service offered by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. No work and a lot of credit make this service a win/win for both advisors and their clients.

The NAIC’s Life Insurance Policy Locator Service provides a single gateway for consumers to query U.S. life insurers to see if their deceased relative had a policy in force that never paid out benefits. “Our locator gives consumers the means to easily search for lost life insurance policies,” says John M. Huff, NAIC President and Missouri Insurance Director. “This national tool gives families and consumers a genuine time-saving option when trying to get their financial affairs in order. (It) leverages NAIC technology to help consumers collect what was promised by insurance contracts.”

A great feature of the search tool is its simplicity. Clients who believe a deceased loved one had life insurance, but can’t find the policy, can visit the NAIC website to request help. After consumers click on a few acknowledgement boxes and then provide data about themselves and their deceased relative, the NAIC will share their request with participating insurers.

The NAIC says there is no fee for submitting a request and no limit to the number of requests a consumer can make. Once the participating life insurers receive a request, they may ask consumers to provide a notarized death certificate for the relative, as well as documentation of their legal authority to request or obtain information about the deceased.

After searching their files, they will respond directly to consumers via e-mail if they find a policy under the relative’s name. If they can’t find one, they will not communicate anything further.

The whole process can take up to 90 days from start to finish. But it’s a vast improvement over the prior state of affairs in which insurers were found to be illegally retaining unclaimed life insurance benefits. Over the last several years, nearly 23 regulatory actions have resulted in the return of more than $6.75 billion in life insurance proceeds to U.S. consumers. The new locator service is designed to rectify this problem by making it much easier for consumers to find the benefits that are rightfully theirs as beneficiaries.

The National Ethics Association strongly encourages financial advisors to raise the issue of lost life insurance during initial meetings with clients. The ability to generate “found money” will not only increase their clients’ customer satisfaction, it will also reduce the likelihood of future complaints and errors-and-omissions claims. That’s surely a win/win for all concerned. Good luck!

For information on affordable E&O insurance for low-risk insurance agents, investment advisors, and real estate broker/owners, please visit EOforLess.com. For information on ethical sales practices, please visit the National Ethics Association’s Ethics Center.