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Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Glenn Hegar
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Getting Paid – Claiming Unpaid Life Insurance Benefits in Texas

By Barbara Gyure

The phone rings. It's someone from the Texas Comptroller's office who wants to give you money – lots of money. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. Are you dreaming? Maybe not.

Unclaimed Property Outreach Specialist Martha Wasp

With tears in his eyes, Jeffrey Malloy, a claims examiner in the Comptroller's office, hangs up the phone. "Those were two of the best phone calls I've ever made," he says. After locating the beneficiaries of a $900,000 life insurance policy, Malloy just notified two brothers of their windfalls – proceeds from their deceased father's policy.

Generally, it's the responsibility of beneficiaries to notify insurers of a policyholder's death. But sometimes policies are forgotten or paperwork is lost, and no action is taken. In Texas, unclaimed life insurance proceeds generally are presumed "due and payable" when the insured reaches the "limiting age," usually well beyond 100, and if still unclaimed after three years, they're considered abandoned. Under state law, abandoned funds must be reported to the state as unclaimed property.

In Texas, the Comptroller's office is charged with returning unclaimed property to its rightful owners. Life insurance companies are among the largest holders of unclaimed assets and missing money. As of May 2017, life insurance companies reported more than $183 million in unpaid life insurance benefits in Texas alone.  

Martha Wasp, an unclaimed property outreach specialist in the Comptroller's office, enjoys helping Texans search for abandoned policies and claim unpaid benefits.

"We're here to help," she says. "Imagine discovering a parent or grandparent left you a large sum of money. It can change your life."

If you know where the policy was purchased, check with the state insurance department or the office that handles unclaimed property. Texans can visit Texas Unclaimed Property to search the state's unclaimed property database and file a claim.

To Search for Unpaid Life Insurance Proceeds Under Your Name (Beneficiary)

  1. Open the Unclaimed Property Search tool on the Comptroller's website.
  2. Enter your name or a name you have held in the past, such as a maiden name.
  3. View the listings. If any listing matches your name and address, check the box.
  4. View listing details. If it belongs to you, check the box and select your relationship.
  5. Enter the required information. You can download your claim form or have it mailed to you.
  6. Mail the completed claim form and required documentation to the address provided on the form.

To Search for Unpaid Life Insurance Proceeds Under a Policyholder's Name (General Claim)

  1. Open the Unclaimed Property Search tool on the Comptroller's website.
  2. Enter the name of the deceased person or relative.
  3. View the listings. If any listing matches the name of your deceased relative, select the property.
  4. Select your relationship with the deceased person.
  5. Answer a few questions:
    • Was there a probated will?
    • Are you the appointed executor or executrix?
    • Is the estate still open?
    • Select "continue."
  6. Answer the questions on the information page.
    • Enter your current name and contact information, including your Social Security number.
    • Select"continue."
  7. Download, print and sign the completed claim form.
  8. Mail the completed claim form with available documentation to the address provided on the form.

Complete the form and provide as much of the requested documentation as you can, including a photocopy of the policyholder's death certificate. In some cases, the Comptroller's office will be able to determine ownership based on the information you are able to provide. If more information is needed, they will contact you or the reporting company.

For more information on how to claim unpaid life insurance benefits, visit Claim-It Help or call 800-654-FIND (3463) to talk with a specialist.

Remember, the more information you can provide about a life insurance policy and the policyholder, the easier it will be to locate any unpaid proceeds and verify your ownership rights. FN

In many states, life insurance beneficiaries may not receive benefits if they’re unaware of the policy’s existence. Texas recently passed legislation to ensure that doesn’t happen. Read more about it in Fiscal Notes.

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