According to Consumer Reports, there is currently about $1 billion in life insurance benefits waiting to be claimed by beneficiaries. I have wondered for a long time why we dont have a better system for tracking these policies. Many times, individuals purchase them and file the policy away, not thinking to tell the family that it even exists. Or, over time, policies get lost. And then there are the cases that CNBC wrote about this week, of the insurance companies not wanting to pay the claims, even when they know a death has occurred.
Until now, the only option you had to find a missing life insurance policy was to go to www.mib.com, pay a fee and perform a search. Now, thanks to charges that were brought against six big insurance companies, this is going to change. Going forward, AIG, Forethought, John Hancock, MetLife, Nationwide and Prudential have agreed to use the Social Security Administrations Death Master File to find beneficiaries. When the beneficiaries cannot be located, payouts will be turned over to state unclaimed property offices.
It is hoped that this will put pressure on the entire industry to follow suit. Another article that I read this week talked about other unclaimed assets such as old pension funds, lost savings bonds and unpaid tax refunds. There are a number of websites you can visit to easily research whether money is owed to you. One of the best sites I found is www.usa.gov. Click on Unclaimed Money and you will see a list of possibilities. Each item on the list is actually a hyperlink to the appropriate website for that specific search. For example, if you click on Pension Funds from a Former Employer, the link takes you to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, where you can search by company name. All of these searches are free.
Another entity that may be holding money for you is Flint Energies. If you currently have service with them or have had service in the past, you need to check out their website. Go to www.flintenergies.com and click on About Us. Next, click on Unclaimed Funds. There are two places you need to search on this site, both the refunds/deposits tab, and the capital credits tab. Capital credits result from money being left over at the end of the fiscal year, after all expenses are paid by the utility. This money is divided up and distributed to cooperative members. In order to search to see if money is being held for you, be sure to open each Excel spreadsheet and search by your last name.
Two other helpful websites are worth mentioning. At www.missingmoney.com, you create a user name and password, and according to the site, perform multiple searches at one time. Unfortunately, Georgia property is not in their site yet, but you may be able to use it for other state searches. The website, www.unclaimed.org allows you to easily search by state for unclaimed property. Click on the state of Georgia, and you are immediately taken to the Georgia Unclaimed Property website. All you have to do is enter your last name and town you live in or lived in, and it will show you whether unclaimed property exists. If you find anything, the next step is to complete and submit the online claim form.
Pass this information on to your friends and relatives. Finding money is a good thing.
Sherri Goss is vice president of Rosenberg Financial Group, Inc., with offices in Macon and Warner Robins. Contact her at 922-8100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.