CHICAGO – Gov. Bruce Rauner and Anne Melissa Dowling, acting director of the Illinois Department of Insurance, on Friday announced two actions taken by the administration to help Illinoisans find lost life insurance money.
They announced the launch of the free Life Policy Locator Service and the signing of House Bill 4633 into law.
“I applaud Director Dowling and her staff for their efforts to make it easier for Illinoisans to access life insurance policy information, ensuring they can more quickly receive the benefits they are owed,” said Governor Rauner. “Updating our antiquated technology to increase employee efficiency and provide better customer service to the taxpayers that interact with state government has been one of my top priorities since coming into office, and our administration will continue to pursue efforts like the LifePolicy Locator Service to bring state government into the 21st Century.”
The Life Policy Locator Service through the Dept. of Insurance helps executors, legal representatives, or members of the deceased person’s immediate family find a life insurance policy or annuity contract left by a deceased loved one and serves to bridge the gap between insurance companies and Illinois citizens who think they may be listed as a beneficiary.
The bill was introduced in the House, by state Rep. Robert Martwick, a Chicago Democrat. State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, was the chief sponsor of the measure in the Senate.
“This is a great initiative and I am proud to sponsor it. When insurance companies fail to pay out the proceeds of life insurance policies, they fail to honor their responsibility to the loved ones of the deceased,” said Haine. “When people pass, their families are left in a great deal of pain. While these awards and annuities can’t alleviate that pain, they can at least help with covering unexpected end-of-life costs.”
Life insurance companies have come under fire with accusations that they have not been diligent enough in awarding benefits to the families and relatives of deceased policyholders. The new legislation would create the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act to correct this.
“I was happy to work with the Treasurer, insurance companies and the Illinois Department of Insurance on this measure,” Haine added. “I think this really helped us to form a good, solid piece of legislation.”
Dowling said finding life insurance policies can be difficult and time consuming after a loved one’s death.
“But with this new free service, consumers can request help from the Illinois Department of Insurance to simplify the process of locating lost life insurance policies. This search service eliminates the confusion of trying to locate missing life insurance policies or annuity contracts and helps get those benefits to the intended beneficiary,” she said.
After the necessary information is submitted, DOI will contact all state-licensed life insurance companies asking them to search their records for any life insurance policies or annuity contracts insuring the decedent. If a policy is found, that insurance company will contact the beneficiary to complete the claim.
In addition, Rauner signed House Bill 4633 into law. The legislation creates the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act and requires insurers to run an initial, and then semi-annual, check against the Death Master File to determine if an insured has passed away. Insurers will be allowed to access the Life Policy Locator to help streamline the process and comply with the new law.
Rauner and Dowling also called on the General Assembly and the Treasurer to stop contingency arrangements with private finder companies. The Treasurer’s Office has paid these companies millions of dollars over the past several years, funds that they said would otherwise be put towards the pension systems, to locate unclaimed life insurance policies. With the launch of the free Life Policy Locator Service and the enactment of HB 4633, these arrangements should no longer be necessary. The savings will result in millions of dollars for the pension funds, Rauner’s office said.
Illinoisans can learn more about the Lost Life Policy Locator Service, by visiting the DOI website at www.insurance.illinois.gov.
HB4633 is effective Jan. 1.
— From the Illinois Business Journal