Are you the beneficiary of a life insurance policy?

Any person may request to know whether he or she has been designated as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy by providing proof of the death of the person who initiated the policy. This proof can be provided by any means.

Who can be the beneficiary of a life insurance policy?

The person who takes out a life insurance policy is not obliged to designate one or more beneficiaries. However, there are legal and tax advantages to doing so. In the event of death, the annuity or capital sum paid out does not form part of the policyholder's estate.

At the time of enrolment, the policyholder is free to designate his or her beneficiaries, who may be natural persons or legal entities, with or without a family relationship to the policyholder. It is up to the subscriber to determine the number of beneficiaries and the distribution of the capital among them. Once the beneficiaries have officially accepted this status, the beneficiary clause can no longer be modified without their agreement.

As a reminder, the distribution of the capital among the beneficiaries must not have the effect of harming the policyholder's heirs, who could contest the beneficiary clause if the reserve portion of the estate is affected.

What are insurers' obligations?

In accordance with the Eckert Act, which came into force on January 1, 2016, insurers are obliged to consult the National Register of Identification of Natural Persons (RNIPP), which lists people who have died in France since 1976, at least once a year, with a view to informing beneficiaries of any death of the policyholder. They must carry out the necessary research to identify the beneficiaries designated in life insurance contracts, in order to pay them the capital due.

If, after a period of 10 years from the date on which the life insurance contract expires or from the date of knowledge of the policyholder's death, the search has still not been successful, the insurers transfer the capital to the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignation (CDC). Beneficiaries then have a further 20 years in which to claim the funds, which will then become the property of the State.

Steps to claim life insurance benefits

Anyone who believes they are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy can verify this by contacting AGIRA, the Association pour la Gestion des Informations sur le Risque en Assurance, by post or online. Applicants must provide their contact details, as well as the surname, first name, date of birth and date of death of the person they believe to be the beneficiary. A copy of the death certificate must also be enclosed. AGIRA processes the claim within 15 days. The organization must contact the insurance companies and mutual insurers, which have one month to examine the request and contact the beneficiary if they find one.

For policies with a capital of over 7,500 euros, you cancontact the notary in charge of the deceased's estate directly. The notary has access to FICOVIE, a database of all life insurance policies.