In the last year and a half, many of us have experienced losses. The Oklahoma Insurance Department has lost three team members, and I too have experienced losses of family and friends. Losing colleagues and loved ones is emotional and reminds us of what really matters. It’s during these times that we need to evaluate how we can take care of our families after we pass.
September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to evaluate your life insurance needs. I encourage Oklahomans to take a few minutes this month to help your loved ones get prepared for uncertainties and protect their futures.
As a life insurance policyholder, there are important steps you should take now:
• Update your policies. Have you had a life-changing event such as the birth of a child or a divorce? It’s important to update your policies after a major life event to make sure that you have the appropriate beneficiaries listed.
• Check your policies. Make sure that all beneficiaries are included and that the contact information for those listed beneficiaries is correct. Place a current copy of the policy with your will or other estate paperwork in a safe place where family and beneficiaries can easily find it.
• Let your beneficiaries know about the policies. Provide beneficiaries or trusted advisors, such as accountants and attorneys, with the name of the life insurance company holding the policy.
While it’s important for policyholders to plan and prepare, tens of millions of dollars in death benefits still go unclaimed each year because beneficiaries lack basic information about their deceased loved one’s life insurance policies. To help Oklahomans locate unclaimed benefits, the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) launched the Life Insurance Policy Locator (LIPL) through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in 2016. The OID has assisted 4,948 requests, which led to 1,389 matches with a total claim amount of $18,844,127 since it was created. These numbers show how beneficial LIPL is to Oklahomans in a time of grieving through simplifying the search in finding beneficiaries.
When loved ones pass away, the last thing someone should have to do is dig through boxes searching for their life insurance policy. The best way to avoid this dilemma is by sitting down with your loved ones and having conversations. Inform your beneficiaries that they are named in your life insurance policy. If you’d prefer not to let them know directly, make sure a trusted advisor, such as an accountant or attorney, is aware. If you believe that you are a beneficiary of a life insurance policy but don’t have the information you need to collect, the LIPL might be able to help.
For more insurance information, please contact the Oklahoma Insurance Department at 1-800-522-0071 or visit our website at www.oid.ok.gov.