You are the liquidator (executor) of a deceased person’s succession (estate) or a relative of the deceased. You want to know whether the deceased had one or more insurance contracts. Here are some things you could try.
You are in possession of the insurance contract
You’ve found one or more insurance contracts under which the deceased was the insured or an insured, such as an individual or group life insurance contract and/or a contract for critical illness insurance, travel insurance and/or long-term care insurance.
In some cases, the insurer may no longer be in business. Finding the insurer responsible for honouring the contract can be a challenge. If you need assistance, contact the Autorité des marchés financiers.
You are not in possession of the insurance contract
There are a number of information sources and clues that can help you find the documents you’re looking for. Here are just a few:
Did the deceased have a filing cabinet, a safe in their home or a safety deposit box at a financial institution where they may have kept important documents? You might be able to figure this out from looking at their keys. Also, check their mail for life insurance statements.
The deceased person’s will
Does the wording of the will suggest that the deceased had life insurance?
You might want to contact the deceased’s financial planner or financial security advisor, if they had one. The financial planner or financial security advisor should know whether the deceased client had life insurance and know the details of the insurance. Note that the deceased may have had more than one representative and more than one insurance contract.
The deceased person’s bank accounts
Check the deceased’s bank account transactions for any amounts that are being debited to pay for insurance. Also check their credit card transactions for these types of debits. You can then contact the institution that is debiting the amounts to locate the insurance contract and claim the insurance owed. Are any amounts being debited for a safety deposit box? If so, the documents you’re looking for may be inside the box.
The deceased’s employer or former employer
If the deceased was an employee, they may have had group life insurance. If they were retired, they may have converted their group insurance to individual insurance upon retirement. You can find out this information, or at least the insurer’s name, by contacting the deceased’s employer. You can then check with the insurer. If the employer no longer exists, is there a group of former company employees you could contact?
Did the deceased belong to any groups that might offer insurance (e.g., a union, a professional association or a retiree association)? Again, you may be able to find this information by looking at the amounts debited from the deceased’s accounts: membership in such associations is not necessarily free. You can then contact the association(s) to find out whether the deceased had life insurance.
Credit card issuers
Some credit cards offer life insurance. Check with the issuers.
Some insurers’ websites
If you have some idea which insurer might have issued the insurance, you could contact the insurance company directly. Some insurers’ websites allow you to search for lost life insurance policies at no cost.
OmbudService for Life & Health Insurance (OLHI)
OLHI offers a free life insurance search service This link will open in a new window. You can request a policy search and, if it meets certain criteria, OLHI will send a search request to its member companies, which account for approximately 99% of Canadian life and health insurance companies.Source: OLHI website in April 2022
The MIB (Medical Information Bureau)
The MIB This link will open in a new window is an American agency owned by U.S. and Canadian insurance companies. It provides its members with the underwriting information of individuals applying for life insurance. This information is collected by the insurer when a person completes an insurance application and consents to have their personal information disclosed to the MIB.
For a fee, the MIB can provide you with a list of any applications for individual (not group) insurance a person has completed since 1996. Although you won’t know whether the insurance policies were in fact issued and are still in force, this information may be useful for your ongoing search.
Don’t forget to look for various types of insurance!
If the death occurred during a trip, check the deceased person’s travel insurance contract to find out what benefits it provided. Also check to see if any of the deceased’s credit cards offered valid travel insurance coverage.
Critical illness insurance and long-term care insurance
These types of insurance can sometimes provide benefits upon the death of the insured, such as the return of premiums paid if the insured didn’t make any claims under the insurance. Check the contract to find out whether the deceased had this type of insurance.
Several types of insurance may apply in the event of accidental death:
- Individual insurance in the event of injury or death resulting from an accident
- In the event of death resulting from a work-related accident or illness, the CNESST This link will open in a new window may pay death benefits to dependents, including spouses and children
- In the event of death resulting from a traffic accident, the SAAQ This link will open in a new window may pay death benefits to the dependents and the spouse
A few years after the person’s death…
The register of unclaimed property
Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to find all the deceased’s life insurance policies. However, that doesn’t mean the amounts are unrecoverable.
When an insurer learns that an insured has died, or when an insured reaches a certain age (e.g., 100), the insurer begins to search for the beneficiary. If the insurer can’t find the beneficiary, it has to deliver the insurance amounts to Revenu Québec, which administers them. Owners of such assets may claim them through the register of unclaimed property This link will open in a new window.
You can check the register a few years after your relative’s death, then annually after that, to see whether any amounts, including insurance amounts, have been added.