Update on States Adopting Legislation Related to Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits

Christa DeOliveira Christa DeOliveira, CIA, CCEP

As noted in several previous blog postings, states are passing legislation related to unclaimed life insurance benefits.   The common link of these laws is that they have provisions requiring searches using the Social Security Death Master File (SSDMF).  Specifically requiring for life insurers to conduct searches comparing the SSDMF to insureds of in force policies and retained asset account owners to identify matches.  For any potential matches identified there are requirements to make efforts to find the beneficiaries, to confirm the death of the insured, and assist beneficiaries in claiming any applicable policy proceeds or retained asset account amounts.  Another similar theme is the laws generally include references to policy information that would be necessary to complete a successful search, such as SSN, complete name, date of birth, beneficiary designation, etc.

Usually, these laws regulate insurance, rather than directly being a part of unclaimed property laws.  However, there are two exceptions to this.  One being North Dakota’s HB 1171 which was adopted on April 26, 2013 and becomes effective on August 1, 2013.  A portion of this bill creates a new chapter to title 26.1 of the North Dakota Century Code.  However, a portion of this bill also amends section 47-30.1-07 relating to North Dakota’s unclaimed property act.  Additionally, the pending legislation in Massachusetts, in its current form, would impact Massachusetts’ unclaimed property laws, if passed.

The following table provides a summary of related legislation and its current status.

State

Bill

Introduced

Adopted

Effective

Alabama

HB 126

2/7/2012

5/15/2012

1/1/2014

Alabama

HB 192

2/7/2013

5/8/2013

8/1/2013

Kentucky

HB 135

1/3/2012

4/11/2012

1/1/2013

Maryland

SB 77

1/16/2012

5/2/2012

10/1/2013

Massachusetts

HB 20

1/4/2013

pending

pending

Montana

SB 34

12/7/2012

3/29/2013

1/1/2014

New Mexico

SB 312

1/18/2013

3/7/2013

7/1/2013

Nevada

AB 226

3/11/2013

6/10/2103

7/1/2014

New York

AB 9845

4/18/2012

12/17/2012

6/15/2013

New York

SB 6943

4/18/2012

substituted

see NY AB 9845

New York

AB 1831

1/9/2013

3/15/2013

6/15/2013

New York

SB 2756

1/23/2013

substituted

see NY AB 1831

North Dakota

HB 1171

1/11/2013

4/26/2013

8/1/2013

Rhode Island

HB 5452

2/14/2013

pending

pending

Tennessee

HB 2283

1/10/2012

died in committee

N/A

Tennessee

SB 2554

1/10/2012

died in committee

N/A

Vermont

HB 95

1/29/2013

5/21/2013

7/1/2013

It will be interesting to see if states’ apparent early ardor for putting forth similar legislation continues or if states’ interest is dampened by the Social Security Administration’s decision to stop including protected state death records in the file based on concerns of identity theft.  Perhaps the SSDMF’s usage for returning unclaimed life benefits will be quelled or thwarted by the political push by the Social Security Administration and others

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