By Karla Sullivan
Oklahoma State Capitol is considering the future of unclaimed life insurance policies which would require companies to track down the rightful beneficiary when someone dies.
In the past year, Oklahoma has doubled the amount of money returned to Oklahomans due to unclaimed life insurance proceeds. The bills would require life insurance companies to research their records to distribute the money to the rightful beneficiary. However, this new law would not cover past life insurance policies.
Vermont State Treasure’s Office has received more than $2 million in unclaimed property and is currently involved in requiring life insurance companies to pay out on old, sometimes forgotten, policies of people who have died. The money represents previously unreported insurance accounts that were being held by companies because no one had claimed them at the time the policyholder died.
On January 9, 2014, Indiana introduced Senate Bill 220, a bill proposing an unclaimed life insurance benefits law. Senate Bill 220 says an insurer shall perform a comparison of in-force policies, annuities, and retained asset accounts issued by the insurer in Indiana against the Social Security Administration’s death master file at least every six months. This will be in force this June of 2015.
If concerned about an unclaimed life insurance policy, check with your state concerning new legislation because many states are working to help lost beneficiaries receive payouts and also trying to establish more responsibility of the life insurance company.
Over time, some life insurance companies change their names, merge with other insurance companies or sell blocks of policies to other insurance companies. Because of changes like these, it can sometimes be difficult to know which insurance company to contact for assistance with a life insurance policy that was purchased years ago.
If you are having trouble finding the correct life insurance company, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recommends the following steps:
1) If you have the life insurance policy, find the full legal name of the insurance company that issued the policy, along with the company’s mailing address and phone number. If the phone number is no longer active, you should contact the insurance department in the insurance company’s home state. That insurance department will have records of the company’s current name, mergers, and other changes, so that you will know which company to contact. NAIC provides a map with links to state insurance departments at http://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm.
2) If you do not have the insurance policy, perhaps you know the company’s name and the state where the policy was purchased. If so, then use the same map linked above to locate that state’s insurance department, which will have records of the company’s current name, mergers, and other changes, so that you will know which company to contact.
NAIC also provides a short questionnaire (https://eapps.naic.org/orphanedpolicy/) that can help you determine which state insurance department to contact for assistance.
Want to learn more about life insurance? Read our article The Most Frequently Asked Life Insurance Questions.