main menu page title feature menus content footer
My Florida C F O

CFO's Initiatives

Stay Connected

Follow the
Department of
Financial Services

Sign up for the CFO's
weekly newsletter!

Press Release

News   RSS RSS   Press Office   Archive

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…Sun Sentinel: “Life insurance death-list search bill cleared for House vote"


Sun Sentinel: “Life insurance death-list search bill cleared for House vote"

“Life insurance death-list search bill cleared for House vote”
Sun Sentinel
Written by Ron Hurtibise
February 25, 2016
For Full Article Click HERE

A proposal to require life insurance companies to search each year for dead policyholders — so beneficiaries can get paid — was approved by a state House committee over objections from life insurers.

The bill would require insurers to search the Social Security Administration's Death Master File for all of their policyholders retroactively to 1992 and every year going forward. It was approved on Thursday by the House Regulatory Affairs Committee and now heads to a vote by the full House of Representatives. A related version was approved by the full Senate on Wednesday.
Rep. Bill Hager, R-Delray Beach, said the law would subject all life insurers to the same settlement terms the state has reached with more than 20 companies since 2011. Nearly $500 million has been recovered.

Supporters of the bill contend that life insurers must be forced to investigate whether policyholders have died because they'd prefer to keep the policy benefits in their coffers collecting interest.

Yet they routinely search the Death Master File for recipients of annuities — because those are benefits the companies agree to pay until death. "When it has not been in their vested economic interest to search the database, they have not searched the database," Hager said.

(But) Jeff Atwater, Florida's Chief Financial Officer, countered that 151,000 beneficiaries were found as a result of settlements reached with the 20 companies since 2011. "Someone may conclude that $500 million of returned life insurance benefits to people who paid the premium, their beneficiary, is small money. It's not small money."

Atwater introduced Jackie Bigoney, a Tallahassee woman who said a death search brought her family "a couple thousand dollars." Bigoney's father died in 2007, but her mother was unaware for five years that he had a life insurance policy naming her as the beneficiary.

When it was recovered as a result of the state's enforcement action, Bigoney's mother had medical bills and the family was struggling with household expenses. "When that money came in, it was a miracle," Bigoney said.

Since 2011, the settlements have resulted in life insurance companies returning nearly $310 million to Florida beneficiaries.
Nearly $172 million has been remitted to the unclaimed property program. Of that, nearly $51 million has been returned to the intended beneficiary or their heir, (Atwater spokeswoman Ashley) Carr said.

# # #
To learn more about CFO Atwater’s legislative priorities, click HERE.