News 12 NBC 26 / Thursday, April 20, 2017
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- If you live in Georgia, you may have thousands of dollars in unclaimed life insurance benefits, but now there's an easy way to find out.
With the click of a button, you can find out if an insurance company owes you money.
"Answer a few questions and we'll help you determine whether or not you may be a beneficiary of a life insurance policy you didn't know about," Deputy Insurance Commissioner Jay Florence said.
It's called the Life Insurance Policy Locator. On the Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner's homepage, you'll find it in the bottom left-hand corner.
Think of it as a lost and found for money, except some people don't even know theirs is missing.
"Yeah, there could be money for people. There could be good money," Florence said.
We're talking thousands. The average payout is around $20,000. Since the search launched in December, 127 Georgians have gotten back $745,305.
Maybe the best part?
"It doesn't cost anything. There's no harm in doing it," Florence said.
So, here's how you find out if there's money waiting on you. Find the Life Insurance Policy Locator icon on the website www.oci.ga.gov. It's in the bottom left corner.
Click the boxes saying you've searched in other ways, then fill in your email address. You'll need the name of the person who passed away, their birthday, and the date of their death. You can also enter addresses and social security numbers, but it's not required.
Fill in your information, too, then click submit. In a couple of weeks, if you're listed on a policy, they'll contact you.
You will only get a response if you're listed on someone's life insurance policy. You won't be notified if it's someone else's name, even if it's your brother or sister.
If you're thinking someone should have contacted you right after your loved one's death, Florence says maybe they tried. Oftentimes beneficiaries move and the contact info isn't updated on the policy. Sometimes it falls through the cracks when a loved one dies and this policy is not sitting with other important documents like a Will. Other times, insurance companies change names or get bought out, and that causes confusion.
Florence says they started working on a way people could track down their policies several years ago.
"Insurance companies were doing a really good job of checking what is called the social security death master policy to determine when they needed to stop making annuity payments, but they were not checking that policy when they needed to pay life insurance benefits," he said.
The insurance company typically holds on to the money for two years before sending it to the Georgia Department of Revenue's unclaimed property division. You can still use the locator to see where the money was sent.