Dear Dr. Don,

While in the military stationed in Germany during the early 1970s, my husband and I bought a life insurance policy from an agent representing a company in the U.S. We lost the policy, my husband died four years ago, and I am trying to find the company that is holding the policy. I called several companies in the New England area with no luck.

Any ideas as to what to do next? I even tried the military. I am still waiting for an answer a year later.

-- Christel Clues

Dear Christel,

The MIB Group has a policy-locator service you can use as the surviving spouse to try to locate the life insurance policy. There is a $75 fee for this service, and the group claims a 30% success rate. The results are typically available in seven to 10 business days.

If that doesn't work, it's really too soon to try the unclaimed property sites for the different states. Life insurance policies typically aren't turned over to the state until well after the expected life span of the deceased.

Instead of calling New England-based life insurance companies, try contacting the insurance commissioners of these states. The commissioners' offices may be familiar with the companies writing policies for servicemen in Germany during the 1970s.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC, at one point was working on a guide to locate a missing life insurance policy. There are about a dozen tips offered in the draft of this guide as to things you can do to track down the company that issued the policy. They included looking through his past financial records and mail for policy-related materials, if you still have them. Even reviewing his tax returns for policy-related interest earnings might help. Good luck.

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