States Passing the “Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act” and Similar Legislation Continues

Christa DeOliveira Christa DeOliveira, CIA, CCEP

As noted in previous blog postings, It’s Similar to Unclaimed Property Compliance… and Goings on in the Life Insurance Sector, states are adding new laws many of which are based on NCOIL’s “Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act” or at least contain similar provisions.  While these laws are generally not directly a part of unclaimed property law, but rather insurance statutes, the laws remain significant and are at minimum indirectly tied to unclaimed property.

The common link to the 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 beneficiaries, to confirm the death of the insured, and assist beneficiaries in claiming any applicable policy proceeds or retained asset account amounts.  Another common characteristic 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.

The following table shows all of the related legislation and its current status.

State

Bill

Introduced

Adopted

Effective

Alabama

HB 126

2/7/2012

5/15/2012

1/1/2014

Kentucky

HB 135

1/3/2013

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

1/7/2013

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

pending

pending

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

pending

pending

Rhode Island

HB 5452

2/14/2013

pending

pending

Tennessee

HB 2283

1/10/2012

died in committee

died in committee

Tennessee

SB 2554

1/10/2012

died in committee

died in committee

Vermont

HB 95

1/29/2013

pending

pending

There has been a challenge to Kentucky’s new law, KRS Section 304.15-420; however, the Kentucky Circuit Court in United Ins. Co. of Am. v. Kentucky held the new requirements were “within the scope of the legislature’s police powers to regulate the business of insurance.” 

More states have both put forth and passed legislation either based on the NCOIL “Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act” or alternate legislation with similar provisions.  Undoubtedly, this trend will continue.  It will be interesting to track legislative activity, identify the path states follow to establish and support any new reporting requirements, and to monitor future legal developments.

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