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How to Check the Value of an Old Life Insurance Policy

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Reviewed byJoel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Life insurance Q&A: “How to check the value of an old life insurance policy?”

Perhaps you are named a beneficiary on a life insurance policy purchased by a relative who has recently passed. Or maybe you just remembered there was an old policy you stopped paying attention to.

Regardless of the reason behind it, there are a few steps you can take to determine if an old life insurance policy has any cash value.

Determine the Policy Type

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First, you will need to determine if the policy is a cash value or any other type of permanent policy. These are going to be your whole life and universal life policies.

If it’s not one of those, a term life insurance policy for example, there is likely no cash value on the policy. So don’t be surprised if there’s nothing in the way of cash.

1. Your search may be over quickly if the individual who passed kept organized financial records. A simple review of the most up-to-date policy statement should tell the whole story. Save the statement even if it is outdated.

There is important information on the statement you can use for the rest of the steps you may need to take as part of this process.

2. Using the Dec page, usually the first page of the life insurance policy documents, attempt to locate the name and contact information of either the insurance agent or company that issued the policy and give them a call.

With the proper contact info, you should be able to get a great deal of information about the policy, including whether or not it has cash value, with just a single phone call.

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What If the Life Insurance Policy Has Cash Value?

At this point, you will have to make a decision on what you are going to do with the policy.

Depending on the type of life insurance policy purchased, you may retain the option to “cash in” the policy for whatever the surrender value is or keep the policy in-force as an investment.

Keep in mind that the surrender value will often times be less money than the current cash value.

Regardless, you may want to seek the advice of a financial advisor when making your decision as it could have a variety of implications.

But at least you’ll know what you’re dealing with, and will be able to take appropriate measures going forward.

Read more: Low cost life insurance.

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