Insurance policies often go unclaimed because of lack of prior communication between the beneficiary and the claim owner, misplaced forms and other misunderstandings that lead to the beneficiary remaining ignorant of the money owed. Some state investigations have also revealed that often insurance companies make little effort to contact beneficiaries.
Insurance auditors in states like Florida and California discovered that many insurance companies search Social Security databases for recent deaths so they can stop sending annuities to recently deceased members. No such effort is in place, however, to find the beneficiaries of unclaimed forms whose contact information could be easily accessed from the database. There were even some reports that, at times, companies took the cash value of unclaimed forms to continue paying monthly premiums on the plan. While the first of these practices can be defended as sound business, the second begins to tilt toward the unethical, and the third practice is outright criminal behavior.
The growing number of unclaimed monies has led some companies to begin to practice cleaner procedures, while still insisting that it is the beneficiary's responsibility to contact the company. In response to the number of unpaid claims, several websites that search databases and provide information to consumers if unclaimed money is found have been developed.