Christa DeOliveira, CIA, CCEP
Here are several things that closely approximate unclaimed property compliance although they are actually not part of unclaimed property law and therefore, not regulated by states’ unclaimed property divisions. Regardless, it is useful for unclaimed property professionals in applicable industries to be aware of the legislative activity surrounding the Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act and similar legislation; and also the scope of SEC 17Ad-17 expanding as they are significant and are tied to reducing and preventing unclaimed property.
Life Insurance and Annuities Recap of 2012
There were some interesting developments during 2012 in the life insurance and annuities sector, both with legislation and regulations. While these developments are not directly a part of unclaimed property, several laws were proposed requiring searches using the Social Security Death Master File, SSDMF, also sometimes referred to as the Social Security Death Index, SSDI. A few of these were based on the model law entitled “Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act,” which was promulgated by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, NCOIL. The states that proposed the legislation included:
- Alabama HB 126 (based on NCOIL model act) - adopted May 15, 2012, effective January 1, 2014
- Kentucky HB 135 (based on NCOIL model act) - signed by the Governor on April 11, 2012, effective January 1, 2013
- Maryland SB 77 (alternate legislation) - signed on May 2, 2012, effective October 1, 2013
- Montana MD 375 (based on NCOIL model act) - prefiled in 2012 for 2013, see below
- New York AB 9845 (alternate legislation) - signed by Governor 12/17/2012, effective June 15, 2013
- New York SB 6943 (alternate legislation) - substituted by AB 9845 on June 21, 2012
- Tennessee HB 2283 (based on NCOIL model act) - did not progress out of committee
- Tennessee SB 2554 (based on NCOIL model act) - did not progress out of committee
Some of the provisions in the NCOIL model act include conducting a search comparing insureds of in force policies and retained asset accounts against the SSDMF to identify matches. Initially quarterly searches were proposed; however, subsequently this was reduced to semi-annually. For any potential matches identified there are requirements to confirm the death of the insured and make efforts to find beneficiaries and assist them in claiming any applicable policy proceeds. Incidentally, the act also touches on policy information that would be necessary to complete a successful search, such as SSN, complete name, date of birth, beneficiary designation, etc.
While other states passed similar legislation, they did not follow the NCOIL model act. However, the alternate formats of legislation do also require searching the SSDMF and other similar provisions.
Additionally, in 2012 New York expanded its insurance regulations to require cross-checking life insurance policies with the SSDI. The required frequency is at least quarterly with provisions outlined of when more frequent searches would be necessary. The regulation requires that key information be captured when a policy is sold and cross referencing policies with requests received through the state’s new lost policy finder, www.NYPolicyFinder.com. Insurance Regulation 200, 11 NYCRR 226, can be viewed in its entirety at www.dfs.ny.gov/insurance/r_emergy/re200t.pdf. It became effective on June 13, 2012.
Life Insurance and Annuities 2013
As noted above there was a prefiled draft for Montana in 2012 and currently there are two bills:
- Montana HB 89, assigned to committee
- Montana SB 34, assigned to committee with a hearing currently scheduled for January 11, 2013
- It will be interesting to follow whether more states put forth legislation either based on the NCOIL “Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act” or alternate legislation with similar provisions.
Regulation SEC Rule 17Ad-17 Requirements Expand to Broker Dealers
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved new rules regarding lost holders of securities and unresponsive payees. On July 21, 2010, with the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, specifically section 929W, the SEC needed to adopt amendments to Rule 17Ad-17. On December 21, 2012 the SEC unanimously approved new rules that. expand the search requirement obligations to include broker-dealers.
The SEC 17Ad-17 has been in place since 1997, requiring transfer agents to exercise reasonable care in finding lost securityholders and establishes minimum requirements:
- Two database searches are required
- Information database service must be used at least once
- Securityholders are lost when
- Correspondence sent to the address on file is returned as undeliverable
- If transfer agent resends any returned item within one month, the transfer agent can delay the lost classification until the second item is returned as undeliverable
- And the transfer agent has not received information regarding the securityholder’s new address
- Two database searches must be conducted, at least one of which must use an information database service
- First search, between 3 - 12 months of securityholder becoming lost
- Second search, between 6 - 12 months after the first search
- The searches being early on is a contrast to state mandated due diligence requirements that occur much closer to escheat
- Information database must
- Contain addresses from the entire U.S. geographic area
- Contain at least 50% of the U.S. adult population
- Be indexed by taxpayer identification number (TIN) or name, based on whether a TIN search or name search is conducted
- Is updated at least four times per year
- Or have any service/combination of services which produce comparable results
- The securityholder cannot be charged for the cost of the two required searches
As stated in the press release (http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2012/2012-277.htm) the new rules will:
- Require broker-dealers to conduct certain searches for lost holders of securities that transfer agents currently are required to conduct.
- Require “paying agents” – including certain issuers, broker-dealers, transfer agents, and other entities – to notify certain persons – termed “missing securityholders” in the statute and “unresponsive payees” in the adopted rules – in writing that the paying agent has sent the person a check that has not yet been negotiated.
- Excludes paying agents from their notification requirement when the value of the not yet negotiated check is less than $25.
- Add a provision clarifying that the notification requirement for paying agents shall have no effect on a state’s ability to collect funds that it deems abandoned under so-called state escheatment laws.
- Add a conforming technical rule to help ensure that broker-dealers have notice of their new obligations regarding lost holders of securities and unresponsive payees.
The amended rule will become effective 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The rule is currently pending a review from the Office of Management and Budget. After this review has been completed, the final rule will be issued and sent to the Federal Register for publication. A draft can be reviewed now at http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2012/2012-277-draft-lost-securityholders-release.pdf. Thereafter, the date for required compliance will be one year after publication in the Federal Register.