ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — More than $1.1 billion in unclaimed life insurance benefits have been recovered nationwide after an investigation, New York regulators said Wednesday.
The state's Department of Financial Services said many insurance companies were not using lists of recent deaths from the Social Security Administration to determine whether a policy holder had died. That meant if family members did not know there was a life insurance policy or forgot to file a claim, the policy went unpaid.
New York regulators say they directed insurers to use the Social Security master file to investigate unclaimed policies — just as insurers used the list of recently deceased to determine when to stop annuity payments.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said state investigators working with insurance companies were able to make payments to 100,000 consumers nationwide, including more than 25,000 New York residents. The oldest claim dated to a death in 1960.
Of the $1.15 billion in recoveries to date, beneficiaries or heirs have not been found for $339 million. The unclaimed money is being held until heirs step forward to claim the money.
"Going forward, we will continue these efforts to ensure consumers get every single penny they are entitled to," Cuomo said in a prepared statement.
In New York, officials worked with insurers to set up an online lost policy finder, www.NYPolicyFinder.com, to help residents locate lost life insurance policies and annuity contracts. Users are asked to attach a copy of the death certificate.
A 2011 New York law requires life insurance companies to regularly search their records to identify a policyholder when he or she dies and to locate beneficiaries.
The report released Wednesday did not name the insurers.