Finding a Life Insurance Policy After the Death of a Loved One

What happens if a loved one passes away, and you’re not sure if they had a life insurance policy to make a claim for? Learn how to navigate finding life insurance policies after death.

20 Minute read

Originally published: May 12, 2023

How to Discover if a Loved One Had a Life Insurance Policy After Their Death

What happens if a loved one passes away, and you’re not sure if they had a life insurance policy to make a claim for? Learn how to navigate finding life insurance policies after death.

20 Minute read
Originally published: May 12, 2023

How to Discover if a Loved One Had a Life Insurance Policy After Their Death

Life insurance is often purchased with the hope that it will provide financial security for loved ones after one’s passing. But what happens when that policy gets lost in the shuffle of life, only to be forgotten or unknown by the very people it was meant to benefit? This situation is more common than you might think. Families often find themselves in a position of not knowing whether their loved one had a life insurance policy, or if they do know, they’re unsure about how to locate it or claim it.

If you find yourself in this situation, you’re not alone. This guide will walk you through the process of finding a deceased’s life insurance policy, how to claim it, and how to navigate the challenges that might arise along the way. It’s time to demystify the process and bring to light the path to uncovering these hidden financial treasures.

Understanding the Top Benefits of Life Insurance: Financial Security and Beyond

Life insurance is of paramount importance as it acts as a financial safety net for your loved ones in the event of your death. The sudden loss of a family member can be emotionally and financially challenging. In such times, life insurance comes to the rescue, providing much-needed financial stability. It ensures that your loved ones aren’t burdened with financial responsibilities, from paying off debts and meeting daily living expenses to managing funeral costs. Additionally, life insurance can also serve as an inheritance, securing your loved ones’ future. Here are just some of the benefits of life insurance:

Top benefits of life insurance in Canada
  1. Financial Security: Provides income replacement for dependents after the policyholder’s death, ensuring their living expenses can be covered.
  2. Debt Repayment: Proceeds from a life insurance policy can be used to pay off debts, like a mortgage, car loans, or credit cards, preventing the burden from falling on loved ones.
  3. Funeral Costs: Covers the cost of the policyholder’s funeral and burial expenses, alleviating the financial burden from the family during a difficult time.
  4. Inheritance: Can be set up to create an inheritance for heirs, even if the policyholder has no other significant assets.
  5. Business Protection: In a business context, life insurance can protect the company from the loss of a key employee or facilitate a smooth transition of ownership.
  6. Tax Benefits: Life insurance payouts are typically tax-free, providing the full policy amount to beneficiaries.
  7. Savings and Investment: Some types of life insurance policies, like whole life or universal life, have a cash value component that can grow over time, serving as a form of investment.
  8. Peace of Mind: Knowing that loved ones will be financially protected can provide peace of mind to the policyholder.

Case Study: The Quest for Mabel’s Lost Life Insurance Policy

Case study for finding a life insurance policy after their passing

Our story begins with the Smith family. After their beloved grandmother, Mabel, passed away, they were left with a mystery. Mabel had once mentioned a life insurance policy, but no one in the family knew any details. All they had was a vague memory and Mabel’s word to go on. With no policy document, no insurance company name, and no policy number, they were left in the dark, unsure of how to proceed.

Their journey started with a thorough search of Mabel’s personal documents, meticulously combing through her old mail, files, and bank statements for any hint of an insurance policy. Months of searching yielded no results, and the family began to lose hope.

They then turned to Mabel’s lawyer and accountant, hoping for a lead. Unfortunately, both professionals had no knowledge of Mabel having a life insurance policy. Despite these setbacks, the Smith family didn’t give up. They were determined to honour Mabel’s last financial plan.

Their break came when they decided to contact the OmbudServices for Life and Health Insurance (OLHI). Using their Policy Locator Service, they submitted a request form with all the details they had about Mabel. After weeks of waiting, they received a letter in the mail. A policy had been found!

Mabel had a life insurance policy with a major insurance company. The policy was paid up and active at the time of her death. The Smith family was overjoyed. They contacted the insurance company and, after submitting the necessary documentation, including a certified copy of Mabel’s death certificate and the filled-out claim form, they were able to claim the policy.

This case study underscores the importance of perseverance and utilizing available resources when searching for a deceased’s life insurance policy. The Smith family’s dogged determination, their exhaustive search, and their decision to use the OLHI Policy Locator Service ultimately led them to successfully claim Mabel’s life insurance policy, honouring her final financial wishes.

Why is it Important to Find a Deceased’s Life Insurance Policy?

Financial Stability and Support

The primary purpose of a life insurance policy is to provide financial stability and support to the beneficiaries after the policyholder’s death. This is often a significant amount, designed to cover expenses like funeral costs, outstanding debts, mortgage payments, or even ongoing living costs. In many cases, this financial support is a crucial lifeline during a challenging time.

For example, if the deceased was the primary earner in their family, their loss could create a financial void. Life insurance is designed to fill that void, ensuring that the family can maintain their standard of living.

Education and Future Plans

In many cases, life insurance policies are purchased with specific goals in mind. The policyholder may have intended for the funds to support their children’s education, to contribute to a spouse’s retirement, or to ensure the continuation of a family business. If these policies are not discovered and claimed, these future plans might be jeopardized.

Fulfilling the Deceased’s Wishes

Finding and claiming a life insurance policy is also about respecting and carrying out the deceased’s final wishes. They took the responsible step of setting up a policy, paying premiums with the intent of supporting their loved ones.

By ensuring that the life insurance policy is found and claimed, you help to fulfill the purpose for which the policy was set up, effectively honoring the deceased’s intentions and wishes.

Prevent Money from Going Unclaimed

In the case that a policy is never claimed, the benefits may eventually end up with the state’s unclaimed property office. This means the money that the deceased intended for their loved ones ends up benefiting no one in the short term. By actively searching for the policy, you can prevent this from happening and ensure the benefits reach the intended recipients.

Finding a deceased’s life insurance policy is a crucial task that has far-reaching implications. It goes beyond mere financial matters, touching on fulfilling the deceased’s last wishes, supporting their future plans, and maintaining the financial stability they intended for their loved ones.

Starting Your Quest: First Steps to Uncover a Deceased’s Life Insurance Policy

When you’re faced with the task of discovering whether a deceased loved one had a life insurance policy, knowing where to begin your search can be a daunting task. However, there are simple first steps that you can take that may provide vital clues.

  1. Personal Documents: Begin your investigation by looking at your loved one’s personal documents. This could include paperwork stored in home offices, filing cabinets, or safes. Look for any insurance documents, policy details, or any correspondence from insurance companies.
  2. Check Their Mail: Both physical and digital mail can provide insights. Keep an eye on incoming mail for any letters from insurance companies. This includes premium notices, policy updates, or other correspondence. Don’t forget to check email inboxes as well; many people opt for digital correspondence these days.
  3. Stored Files on a Computer: In an increasingly digital world, your loved one may have stored important documents on their computer. Look for digital copies of insurance policies, receipts for premium payments, or emails from their insurance provider.
  4. Starting with these steps could lead you to the information you need, or at least guide you to the next course of action. Remember, finding a life insurance policy is like piecing together a puzzle. Every piece of information, no matter how small, could be an important part of the larger picture.

What Clues to Look for in Bank Statements?

Bank Statements:

Bank statements can serve as a valuable resource when you’re trying to determine if a deceased loved one had a life insurance policy. Insurance premiums often appear as regular transactions on bank statements, which can provide clues to the existence of a policy. Here’s what you should be looking for:

  1. Type of Transactions: Look for transactions that are insurance premium payments. These might be labeled with an insurance company’s name, or they might use specific codes or descriptions. The transaction details can vary depending on the bank and insurance company.
  2. Frequency of Payments: The frequency of these transactions can also provide clues. Life insurance premiums might be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Consistent payments at these intervals might indicate an insurance policy.
  3. Insurance Company Names: If your loved one has used well-known insurance companies, you might be able to spot them directly on the bank statement. Look for recognizable names, but don’t overlook unfamiliar ones. If you see a company name you don’t recognize, it’s worth a quick internet search to see if it’s an insurance provider.
  4. Variations in Amounts: If the deceased had a variable life insurance policy, the premium amounts might vary over time. This is because the policyholder can often adjust the premium amount and death benefit. So, don’t only look for consistent amounts, but also for variable payments to the same company.

Remember, while a bank statement may not provide concrete evidence of a life insurance policy, it can offer significant clues that could guide your search. The information gleaned from bank statements can direct you towards potential insurance companies to contact or alert you to the existence of a policy that you were previously unaware of. Keep in mind that patience and a keen eye for detail are key in this process.

Who to Contact for Information About a Deceased’s Life Insurance Policy

When you’re trying to uncover if a deceased loved one had a life insurance policy, one of the most effective strategies can be reaching out to professionals who might have relevant information. Here are some key contacts:

  1. Insurance Companies: If you’ve found any evidence pointing towards a particular insurance company, contact them directly. They won’t be able to disclose information freely due to privacy laws, but they can confirm the existence of a policy if you’re a listed beneficiary or the executor of the estate.
  2. Financial Advisors: A financial advisor is often involved in planning and managing aspects like life insurance. If your loved one had a financial advisor, they might be aware of the existence of a policy. Contact them, explain your situation, and see if they can provide any information. They’re bound by confidentiality rules, but they can help direct you to the right place.
  3. Lawyers: If your loved one had a lawyer, particularly one involved in estate planning, they might have information about a life insurance policy. They might have advised on the policy, or they might have a copy of it stored with your loved one’s will or other important documents.
  4. Accountants: If an accountant was involved in managing the deceased’s finances, they might also know about a life insurance policy. This could be especially true if the policy was a part of tax planning or if the premiums were paid from a business account.
  5. Employers: Don’t forget to check with the deceased’s current or previous employers. Many people have life insurance policies through their jobs, some of which might continue even after retirement or leaving the job.

When contacting these professionals, remember to be prepared with any documentation that might be necessary to verify your relationship with the deceased and your right to this information. This could include a death certificate, proof of your identity, and potentially proof of your status as an executor or beneficiary.

Finding a hidden life insurance policy can be a complex task, but making the right connections can help guide you in the right direction. Be patient and persistent in your search, as this process may take some time.

Talk to an advisor today.

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Making Use of Online Tools and Resources to Locate a Deceased Person’s Life Insurance Policy in Canada

In the digital age, several tools and resources can assist you in your quest to find a loved one’s Canadian life insurance policy. These resources provide a unique advantage as they can reach out to numerous insurance companies simultaneously or tap into databases that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

OmbudServices for Life and Health Insurance (OLHI) Policy Locator

The OmbudServices for Life and Health Insurance (OLHI) offers a free online service to help you locate a deceased’s life insurance policies in Canada. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Visit the OLHI Policy Locator Service website.
  2. Submit a request form. You’ll need to provide details about yourself (as the requester) and about the deceased. This includes information like your relationship to the deceased and the deceased’s name, date of birth, and last known addresses.
  3. Wait for the results. The OLHI will alert insurance companies about your search. If there’s a policy that you are a beneficiary of or legally entitled to information about, the insurance company will contact you directly.

Provincial Unclaimed Property Offices

If a life insurance company knows that a policyholder has died but can’t find the beneficiaries, it’s required to turn the benefits over to the provincial unclaimed property office. You can check with this office to see if any unclaimed benefits are in your loved one’s name.

  1. Visit the website of your provincial unclaimed property office. Each province may have its own office, while others may have their unclaimed property managed by the Bank of Canada’s unclaimed balances portal.
  2. Follow the instructions for searching for unclaimed property. This will typically involve entering the deceased’s name and possibly other identifying information.
  3. If you find unclaimed property in your loved one’s name, there will be instructions on how to claim it. This will usually involve proving your identity and your relationship to the deceased.

Using these online tools and resources can streamline your search process and potentially uncover Canadian life insurance policies that you might not have found otherwise. Remember to be patient, as these processes may take some time.

Steps to Take Once You Find a Deceased’s Life Insurance Policy

Finding the policy is a significant milestone, but it’s not the end of the journey. There are still several steps to follow to claim the policy:

  • Contact the Insurance Company: The first step is to notify the insurance company of the policyholder’s death. They will guide you through their specific claims process, which can vary slightly from company to company.
  • Fill Out a Claim Form: The insurance company will provide a claim form, also known as a request for benefits. You’ll need to fill out this form with your information, details about the deceased, and information about the policy.
  • Submit the Death Certificate: Along with the claim form, you’ll typically need to submit a certified copy of the policyholder’s death certificate. This is a crucial piece of evidence that validates the claim.
  • Provide Additional Information if Required: Depending on the policy’s terms and the cause of death, the insurance company might require additional information. This could include medical records, an autopsy report, or a police report if the death was due to an accident.
  • Choose a Payout Option: If the claim is approved, you’ll typically have several options for the payout. You could receive it as a lump sum, as an annuity that provides regular payments over time, or you might have other options depending on the policy’s terms.
  • Get Legal or Financial Advice: It’s often a good idea to consult with a lawyer or financial advisor before finalizing the claim. They can provide advice on tax implications, how to handle a large sum of money, and other potential issues.

Remember that each insurance company may have slightly different procedures, so it’s essential to communicate with them and understand their process. Always be prepared to provide documentation that proves your identity and your legal right to the policy’s benefits (for instance, a will naming you as a beneficiary).

While the process may seem complicated, keep in mind that insurance companies handle these situations regularly and their claim representatives will guide you through the necessary steps.

Challenges in Claiming a Deceased’s Life Insurance Policy

Navigating the world of life insurance claims can be a challenging task, and you may encounter some hurdles along the way. Here are some potential issues and advice on how to handle these situations:

  • Lack of Necessary Information: Sometimes, all of the information needed to claim a policy isn’t readily available. You may not have the policy number, or you might not know the insurance company’s name. In these cases, continue to search for clues in personal documents, bank statements, or through the deceased’s professional contacts.
  • Policy Not in Force at Time of Death: A life insurance policy may not be in force, or active, at the time of the policyholder’s death. This could occur if the premiums weren’t paid, or if the policy was a term policy that expired before the policyholder’s death. If this is the case, there might be no benefits to claim. It’s crucial to understand the type of policy and its terms as soon as you locate it.
  • Dealing with Unresponsive Insurance Companies: Sometimes, you might find that an insurance company is slow to respond or difficult to deal with. If you’re having trouble getting a response, try escalating your issue to a supervisor or the company’s customer service department. You could also consider seeking legal advice.
  • Disputed Claims: There may be situations where the claim is disputed. This could be due to a disagreement about the cause of death, the discovery of inaccurate information on the initial application, or disputes among potential beneficiaries. If the claim becomes a legal matter, you should definitely consult with a lawyer.
  • Probate Delays: If the deceased’s estate goes into probate, it could delay the payout of the life insurance policy, especially if the policy is part of the estate rather than designated to a specific beneficiary.

Remember, while these challenges may seem daunting, you’re not alone. Consider seeking help from a professional such as a lawyer or a financial advisor experienced in life insurance claims. Their expertise can be invaluable in navigating these complex situations. Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it, and take each challenge one step at a time.

What to Do if You Can’t Find a Deceased’s Life Insurance Policy

Not finding a life insurance policy after an extensive search can be frustrating, but there are still options you can consider:

  • Consult with an Attorney: If you’ve reached a dead-end in your search, it might be time to consult with an attorney, preferably one who specializes in estate law. They can provide advice on your situation, and they might be able to use legal channels to uncover information that you couldn’t find on your own.
  • Contact the Insurance Commissioner’s Office: In Canada, each province has an Insurance Commissioner who oversees insurance companies and enforces regulations. If you’re unable to find a policy but have a strong reason to believe one exists, you could contact your provincial Insurance Commissioner’s office. They might be able to provide assistance or advise you on other resources you can use.
  • Reach Out to a Lost Policy Finder Service: Some private companies offer lost policy finder services for a fee. These services will conduct a thorough search for a policy using resources and techniques that might not be available to you. Be sure to use a reputable service and understand the fees involved before you proceed.
  • Keep Checking Mail and Email: If the policyholder passed away recently, keep an eye on their mail or email for any correspondence from an insurance company. It might take a few months for annual statements or other communications to arrive.
  • Don’t Overlook Small Policies: Many people have small life insurance policies that they got through their bank, credit card company, or employer. Even if these policies aren’t large, they can still provide some financial assistance.

While not finding a life insurance policy can be disappointing, it’s important to remember that not everyone has a policy. If you’ve made a thorough search and found no policy, it’s possible that there simply isn’t one. However, by exhausting all options and seeking professional advice, you can be confident that you’ve done everything possible to find a potential policy.


Navigating the maze of finding and claiming a deceased’s life insurance policy can be a daunting task, but it’s a journey that’s often necessary and potentially rewarding. Through diligent detective work, utilising online resources, communicating with relevant parties, and patience, you can successfully uncover and claim your loved one’s life insurance policy.

Remember, there might be challenges along the way, from not having enough information to dealing with unresponsive insurance companies. However, equipped with the right knowledge, persistence, and possibly professional help, these hurdles can be surmounted.

If all your efforts seem fruitless and you still can’t find a policy, don’t lose heart. Consulting with an attorney, contacting the Insurance Commissioner’s office, or engaging a lost policy finder service are viable options worth considering.

At the end of the day, knowing you’ve done everything in your power to find a loved one’s life insurance policy not only ensures you’ve honoured their last wishes but also provides a sense of closure. While the process may seem long and sometimes complicated, remember that each step you take is a step towards fulfilling your loved one’s final financial plan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Locating a Deceased’s Life Insurance Policy

It can vary, but once the insurance company has received the claim and all necessary documentation, it usually takes between 30 to 60 days for beneficiaries to receive the payout.

If a policy is contested, it means there’s a disagreement about the policy’s validity or the claim. This could delay the payout and potentially result in a legal dispute. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s recommended that you seek legal advice.

In Canada, the payout from a life insurance policy is typically not considered taxable income for the beneficiary. However, there might be other tax implications, especially if the policy is part of the deceased’s estate. You should consult with a tax advisor or attorney for specifics related to your situation.

If the insurance company has gone out of business, your policy is likely protected by an industry-funded protection plan, such as Assuris in Canada, which covers up to a certain limit. You should contact the protection plan organization or your provincial Insurance Commissioner’s office for assistance.

If you’re unsure, it’s worth doing a thorough search. Check through their personal documents, reach out to their financial advisor, use online policy locator tools, and keep an eye on their mail for any correspondence from insurance companies.

Find a solution for what you’re looking for

While the process of finding and claiming a deceased’s life insurance policy can be complex and challenging, armed with the right information, resources, and patience, you can navigate this journey and ensure that your loved one’s final financial wishes are fulfilled. At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare policies and quotes from the best life insurance companies in Canada to ensure the best solution for you and your needs. We provide expert life insurance solutions, including no medical life insurance, critical illness insurance, term life insurance, and permanent life insurance to build the best package to give you the protection you need. 

To schedule a consultation about your income protection goals, or if you have any questions about insurance in Ontario or Canada, please contact Protect Your Wealth or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to an advisor today! We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and service clients anywhere in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta including areas such as Kingston, Guelph, Calgary, and Nanaimo.

Talk to an advisor today.

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