Could it be something about Michael Hartmann’s deodorant? That question came to mind recently as Hartmann described his efforts to get attention for his life insurance policy locator database service, FindYourPolicy.com.
Life policyholders can use the site to list the companies that issued their policies along with the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.
When a policyholder dies, a potential beneficiary can enter the policyholder’s name, the policyholder’s birthdate and the last four digits of the policyholder’s Social Security number. The searcher then sees the life insurance company names the policyholder listed.
Policyholders who want an extra layer of security can require searchers to provide a four-digit access code.
For the policyholders, the service is free. For the searchers, registration costs $9.95.
Given all the recent concern about the dead souls on life company policyholder lists, and state regulators’ push to locate unclaimed property, Hartmann had thought life insurers, agencies or regulators might have shown some interest in the locator database.
So far, no.
One executive told him, “I don’t find that you’re necessary or that you’re a benefit to our customers.”
Hartmann said he knows from personal experience that an issuer name database could come in handy for people dealing with the death of a loved one. He and his brother Edmund came up with the idea for the service four years ago, after their father died and they discovered their mother had not filed a life insurance claim.
She thought the life insurance company would contact her.
“It doesn’t work that way,” Hartmann said.
Hartmann—a life insurance agent himself—investigated further and found that, all too often, “people don’t know the company name.”
In still other cases, Hartmann said, spouses, children, nieces, nephews and other beneficiaries have no idea that they are policy beneficiaries.
Nationwide Financial Services Inc., Columbus, Ohio, recently conducted a survey of 805 U.S. life policy owners and found that 9% do not think the policy beneficiaries know they are beneficiaries.
Hartmann has found that people who work in life insurance are not all that much more likely to be keeping good track of this sort of thing than those outside the industry.
At parties with colleagues, he asks, “Do you know your parents’ policies’ writers?”