Amid the grief and turmoil after a loved one's passing, questions about auto and home insurance naturally aren't top of mind. But the death of anyone who owned a home or car raises coverage issues that can lead to trouble if they're not addressed soon enough. "I see a lot of confusion," says David Morales, a financial adviser with the Barnum Financial Group, a MetLife firm in Shelton, Conn. "Clients are going through the grieving process, so they're not looking at [the insurance issues.]" In addition, heirs might be hunting for records of life insurance policies. Beneficiaries often lack the information they need to make a claim. Here's how to find lost life insurance. The status of the deceased's homeowners and auto insurance coverage depends on the situation, the policy, the insurance company and state regulations. Here's a look at what generally happens in the following scenarios.
A spouse dies, leaving a home and car to the surviving wife or husband.
"Most insurance policies have provisions for surviving spouses," says New York estate attorney Jeffrey Asher, a partner with Robinson Brog Leinwand Greene Genovese & Gluck, P.C. "So, upon the death of a policyholder, whether home or auto, the surviving spouse is allowed to maintain the homeowner's insurance policy and auto policy merely by continuing to make premium payments." But in both cases the surviving spouse must still call the insurance company to let it know about the policyholder's death and ask to be listed as the "named insured,” Asher says. Morales says homeowners insurance generally remains in effect for a certain time until the policy can be re-registered or rewritten. "While each company's contract can be different, most insurance companies will give a family up to 30 days to notify the insurance company of a policyholder's death," he says.