At one time or another, I am betting that you have been told that you need life insurance. This is especially true for parents who need life insurance money to take care of their children in the untimely event of a parent’s death. Many people purchase life insurance to cover their own end of life expenses, outstanding debts, and to pass money to the next generation.

We most often focus on the purchase of life insurance, and what benefits you receive and how long the policy lasts. However, we don’t think about what happens when a loved one has a life insurance policy and the company refuses to pay the benefit after a loved one passes on. Believe it or not, each year in the United States more than a billion dollars of life insurance benefits go uncollected.

After the death of a family member, it is important to find and review all important paperwork, including life insurance policies. Most people have a place where they keep important documents.  You also may want to check with the employer or former employer of your loved one.  I know it can be uncomfortable, but it is imperative to have conversations with your family about where vital paperwork can be found and with whom to file a claim. If you believe that a loved one had a life insurance policy but do not have the paperwork, you can visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website and use their Life Insurance Policy Locator Service to investigate.