Many prospects and clients I work with have life insurance stock from companies such as MetLife, Prudential, and John Hancock, just to name a few. Back in early 2000 many insurance companies demutualized. Demutualization means that the company changed its corporate structure so that it could raise capital through the issuance of common stock. Certain policyholders, who previously were owners of the mutual life insurance company, received trust interests representing shares of common stock.
Because these companies did not have current addresses for many policyholders, much of this stock went unclaimed. Prudential could not locate 1.2 million policyholders, and sixty million shares of MetLife arising from its demutualization went unclaimed. Based on the close price of MetLife on November 11, 2011 at $33.07, this unclaimed stock represents approximately 1.9 billion dollars.
One way to tell if you received stock is to review your tax return to see if you received a 1099-Div reporting a life insurance company dividend. Another way to tell if you own any stock is to go to the National Unclaimed Property Network. If you find you do own stock, your shares are being held in one big trust account along with the shares belonging to millions of other stockholders who have not claimed their stock. This stock is technically yours, but it is not in an individual account titled in your name.
If you want to go acquire your stock, you will need to contact the life insurer and request a Notice of Withdrawal Form. When you sign and return this form, your stock will be deposited into an account titled in your own name only. It is then and only then that the stock can be consolidated and transferred to your other investment holdings. You aren’t required to go transfer your stock, but the record shows people forget and money is left on the table. Don’t lose track of your assets, go get your stock!