Cashing in Old Life Insurance

Many people have asked us about old financial papers and their current worth. The questions have included what to do with old bank certificates of deposit, old stock certificates, and ancient papers from life insurance companies. Typically, they are most interested in knowing whether these papers mean found money.

Free Money Hiding in the Attic?

Dear FedNav,

I found some very old life insurance premium receipt books from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. The policies covered the lives of my parents.

There are eight books ranging from 1937 to 1960. They include policy numbers, but no values at death. Furthermore, they show coverage for three of my five siblings and even coverage for me!

I have no claim forms. How do I research these contracts? Are there statutes of limitations on the money they would owe me and/or my siblings as possible beneficiaries?

Mrs. G. of Erie, PA

Dear Mrs. G.,

In cases like yours, where policies are forgotten, sometimes for many years, people often assume they are worthless paper. But this is not always the case! There is no statute of limitations on a life insurance claim.  In fact, death proceeds from policies are often paid years after the date of death.

Old Life Insurance Could Mean Recovered Money

In your case, since the time elapsed is so long, the contracts would probably have to be whole life (permanent) policies, whose cash value and dividends were high enough to carry them from the date of the last payment until today. Otherwise, they would have to be paid-up (all of the premiums due have been paid). So the contracts may be simply growing dividends and interest wile the insurance company waits for your call.

All You Have To Do Is Call

To make your claim, simply call or write the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, provide a list of policy numbers, and ask for the status of each. If death benefits and/or dividends are available, the company will be promptly send them to you. It certainly doesn’t hurt to give it a try!