Consumer Reports investigated the problem of lost insurance policies for its February issue.
"The average unclaimed life insurance benefit is $2,000, but some payouts have been as high as $300,000," said Jeff Blyskal, senior editor at Consumer Reports.
Why is this happening?
One reason: some people buy life insurance and don't let their beneficiaries know about it.
Steve Weisbart with the Insurance Information Institute says better communication can help prevent these lost pay outs from happening.
"If you take out a life insurance policy and you name a beneficiary, then you ought to tell the beneficiary that you've done that," he said. "You don't have to tell them how much money is involved, but you ought to tell them that they are the beneficiary of an insurance policy, who the insurance company is and how to find them."
Do you think you might have been named as a beneficiary by someone who died more than a few years ago? Visit missingmoney.com where you can search records for 38 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and most of Canada all at once.
Or go to unclaimed.org, the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, to access individual unclaimed property offices. You should check all the states or Canadian provinces where the deceased lived and may have purchased a life insurance policy.
The American Council on Life Insurance also has detailed information on its website about finding a Missing Life Insurance Policy. You might also want to check out their new My Insurance Log tool.
Unclaimed life insurance benefits top $1 billion