If the insurance company has current contact information for the beneficiary on file, they will contact that person when it becomes apparent that a claim needs to be settled. They are not obligated to track down a person, and account will go unsettled for several years if the contact information is not up to date.
If you believe that you were named on a policy but have not been contacted, look for records of the policy and contact the named insurance company. If you know who the agent for the deceased was, that person can provide you with the necessary information. If the insurance company is not aware that the insured has died, you will need to provide a copy of the death certificate or possibly an obituary for the deceased. Keep in mind that insurance companies will only settle the policy with the named beneficiary, and consider the possibility that you were not contacted because the beneficiary had been changed without your knowledge.
The executor of the state should be able to provide you with some information regarding the existence of life insurance policies. If not, check the personal effects of the deceased for payments made to insurance companies, and make sure that the policies are not stored in a safe or other protected place. If nothing turns up a policy, your final recourse is to wait a few years and check the state records for claims that have defaulted and been paid into a state trust.