The company isn't sure how many unpaid claims are out there, but last year it set aside $139 million pre-tax to cover any benefits owed.
Joy Hatchette, an associate commissioner with the Maryland Insurance Administration, says policyholders must keep family members aware of policies purchased and where they are kept.
"Parents tend not to share all their information with their children," she says. "They have to realize by not doing that, it makes it [impossible] after they are no longer with us to collect on that policy they have been paying on for years and years."
If an insurer has been acquired by another, the Maryland agency can help beneficiaries track down the new owner. The agency can be reached at 800-492-6116.
Mary Kwei, a chief investigator with the state agency, says beneficiaries should also check a deceased person's bank statements for payments to an insurer for clues to an outstanding policy.
"That's the best detective work you can do on your own," she says.
If you think an insurer owes you money, contact the company instead of waiting for it to reach out to you. Search for a MetLife policy at metlife.com/policyfinder. Or call Prudential at 800-778-2255.