SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - A life insurance policy is meant to financially protect your loved ones if you die, but in many cases, your beneficiaries only get the money if they ask for it.
According to Consumer Reports, one out of every 600 people is entitled to an average of $2,000 in unclaimed life insurance money.
For people entering their golden years, a life insurance policy is a way to make sure their loved ones are taken care of. However, there's a billion dollars in unclaimed money that people don't know their entitled to, and insurance companies are not required to let you know.
"An elderly person passes away. Maybe they had a small paid up policy from 30 years ago. They moved three times, they lost the policy. They don't know that they had it. They're relatives don't know which insurance company to check with, and it's like a needle in a hay stack," said Bill Trudeau, President of the Insurance Centers of New England.
Finding out if your entitled to money can take some digging, but websites like MissingMoney.com can help. To get started, they ask you to enter your first and last name, and the state you live in.
"I only have one son so he knows that everything is his. So it's there for him, but otherwise, it seems like they would make sure the person knows, unless they die before they tell the person," said Tina Pond of Agawam.
To help you in your search, make sure you know the full legal name of your relative, their social security number, and any former addresses. If you plan on getting a policy, be sure to let your beneficiaries know this information about yourself.
Some people told 22News they think insurance companies should take a more active role in trying to contact people who haven't claimed their money.
"The money is just going to sit there. So why not allow people to use the money if it's alloted to them," said Christina Reed of Agawam.
This year, Montana and New Mexico have passed laws that require insurance companies to search for beneficiaries. A similar law was filed in Massachusetts in January, but it's still up for debate.