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I get one of these calls every month or so. A client can’t remember where they put their life insurance policy. It’s not a huge deal to fix the problem, or at least to get a new policy.

The larger problem is that if you can’t find your life insurance policy, how much information does your beneficiary have to work with if you died suddenly? Do they know you have life insurance? Do they know what company it’s with or who your agent was? Filing a claim without a policy isn’t a big deal. Filing a claim is virtually impossible if you don’t know who the agent or the company is.

So, let’s talk about the proactive approach to this issue. When you take out a life insurance policy, talk to your spouse about it. Let them know how much the policy is for, what company it is with and either show them where you intend to file it, or let them file it. Also make sure they have a business card for your agent. While they can file a claim without contacting an agent, a good agent is going to make things go quicker and smoother for them.

Another reason they should know everything about the policy is, say, you had a stroke and were incapacitated. Premiums need to be paid to keep your policy in force and in the absence of your bill paying ability you will want your spouse to make sure everything stays in active.

Ok, so what are your options as a surviving beneficiary if you believe there was life insurance in force, but you don’t have a clue who the agent or company was? Hands down the best option is through the MIB, Medical Information Bureau, a company that tracks medical information in virtually all life insurance policies applied for in the US. While their main focus is fraud prevention, making sure pertinent health information isn’t somehow left off of a second application, an offshoot of that is a database that includes most, if not all, life insurance applications. The MIB has approximately a 14 year database of over 170 million applications. Good chance you can find what you’re looking for.

Bottom line. You should be talking to your beneficiary about insurance policies anyway. It’s kind of a stupid secret to keep. So, have that talk. Tell them what you did, who it was done through and what they should do if you don’t wake up.