House Regulatory Affairs Committee pass House Bill 1041: Unclaimed Property

Since the original filing of House Bill 1041: Unclaimed Property on Dec. 28, 2015 by Representative Bill Hager and Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez, HB 1041 has since been voted affirmatively and favored by the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee, Government Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and House Regulatory Affairs Committee.

HB 1041 was officially passed on Thursday.

Historically, life insurance companies in the United States have routinely searched the social security death database. When one of their annuitants has died, they cease payments immediately.

HB 1041 addresses the inappropriate behavior conducted by some insurance companies. Hager’s research has found that some companies are not thoroughly searching social security databases. Companies have since been prosecuted.

According to HB 1041, “Funds held or owing under any life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract which has matured or terminated are presumed unclaimed. If unclaimed for more than five years after the date of death of the insured, annuitant or retained asset account holder, funds become due and payable as established from the records of the insurance company holding or owing the funds.”

“As to life insurance policy, some insurers have not, in fact, conducted searches of the social security database,” Hager said. “In the event of a death, an assumed $250,000 of cash value will be drained, taken to zero, and the policy will lapse because the insurer has yet to determine that there has been a death.”

Paul Sanford with the Florida Insurance Council is a strong opponent of HB 1041. He approached the podium to address his issues and concerns with the bill.

“The proponents of this bill have alleged in the newspapers and other places that insurers have systematically avoided paying claims and that the actions of the state have forced insurers to pay over approximately $500,000,000 to Florida residents since 2007,” Stanford said.

Stanford feels that only a small portion of all of claims was addressed in today’s meeting.

Veteran Lobbyist Gerald Wester with Insurance USAA, believes HB 1041 brings clarity to the responsibility of life insurers to use today’s search technology to research the deaths of the insured.

“I think most importantly, our companies feel that this bill will bring us more inline with today’s technology and creates a proactive approach if a claimant has not come forward with a death certificate or even make a claim,” Wester said. “This approach will help find a potential beneficiary.”

Caitlin Murray, Government Affairs Director of Office of Insurance Regulation and Kyle Ulrich with the Florida Association of Insurance Agents also wave in support of HB 1041.