Article By: Freda Savana, Bucks County Courier Times
New legislation requires life insurance companies in Pennsylvania to join the life policy finder program. More than $9.6 million has been recovered for about 1,100 residents, according to state officials.
Gov. Tom Wolf recently signed legislation to help beneficiaries of life insurance policies and annuities recover money from policies they were unaware of.
Bill sponsor Rep. Marguerite Quinn, R-143rd, of Doylestown, said there are many old policies that someone might have bought years ago and forgotten about. “If (families) aren’t aware of a policy, they can’t look for it,” she said Thursday.
As a result, the funds wind up in the Treasury Department’s Unclaimed Property Bureau. “There are hundreds of millions of dollars worth of all kinds of property there,” Quinn added.
“Too often,” said the vice chairman of the House Insurance Committee in a statement, “people find out about life insurance proceeds owed to them years after a loved one has passed … coming too late to cover burial costs.”
Under the new law, all companies with life insurance policies and annuities in Pennsylvania will be required to participate in the life insurance policy locator service, begun in November 2016, and respond to search requests for life insurance policies or annuities. According to the Insurance Department, a resident of the 143rd District was the beneficiary of a search that found a six-figure policy. About $9.6 million has been recovered for about 1,100 residents, according to state officials.
While Pennsylvania already participates in the program, it was voluntary until now. Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said the measure is important because it puts the requirement into law.
Jonathan Greer, vice president of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, said he believes most, if not all, insurers in the state already participate in the locator initiative.
Altman said the Insurance Department receives requests every year from people who believe a deceased family member or other loved one had a life insurance policy, but the policy can’t be found. A common scenario, she added, is a parent who bought and paid for a policy years or even decades ago and the policy’s been lost.
Now, any insurer selling life insurance policies or annuities in Pennsylvania must provide the Insurance Department with an email address to which the department can send requests to search for a policy. These requests can be made by a member of the decedent’s family who has received a copy of the decedent’s death certificate, or a representative of the decedent’s estate.
Information on filing a request for a life policy search can be found online and at the Insurance Department website at www.insurance.pa.gov, by clicking on the Life link under Insurance Coverage Resources on the homepage. Consumers who need more assistance also can contact the Consumer Services Bureau on the website, or by calling 1-877-881-6388.