Maine consumers who need to look for a deceased person’s lost life insurance policies or annuities will have an easier time now that Maine is part of a national locator service.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners have launched a service that allows someone to search nationally for a deceased person’s lost benefits. The bureau launched a locator service this year, but is merging with the NAIC’s new national Life Insurance Policy Locator, which can be accessed on the NAIC’s website, www.naic.org, or from the bureau’s website, www.maine.gov/insurance.

The coordinated effort will better assist people with finding life insurance policies and annuities, estimated by Consumer Reports to equal $1 billion in unclaimed benefits, according to a news release from the bureau.

“This service will be of great assistance to many Mainers and others who have benefits due to them,” Superintendent Eric Cioppa said in the release. “The tool streamlines and simplifies the process for consumers and insurance companies. Anyone with questions about the systems should contact the Bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division.”

The online system encrypts information to maintain confidentiality. Insurance companies participating in the system will compare submitted requests with policyholder information and report all matches to state insurance departments. Companies will then contact beneficiaries or their authorized representatives.

Questions on the new service can be directed to the bureau at 624-8475 or [email protected]