Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act

SECTION 27-80-4

§ 27-80-4. Insurer conduct.

(a) An insurer shall perform a comparison of its insureds' in-force life insurance policies and retained asset accounts issued for delivery in this state against a death master file, on at least a semi-annual basis, to identify potential matches of its insureds. After the initial comparison, an insurer shall perform a comparison of the insurer's in-force life insurance policies against the revised death master file, on at least a semi-annual basis, to identify the potential matches of the insurer's insureds. For those potential matches identified as a result of a death master file match, the insurer shall:

(1) Within ninety (90) days of a death master file match:

(i) Complete a good-faith effort, which shall be documented by the insurer, to confirm the death of the insured or retained-asset account holder against other available records and information;

(ii) Review its records to determine whether the deceased insured or retained-asset account holder had purchased any other products with the insurer; and

(iii) Determine whether benefits are due in accordance with the applicable policy or contract. If the insurer determines that benefits are due in accordance with the applicable policy or contract, the insurer shall:

(A) Use good-faith efforts, which shall be documented by the insurer, to locate the beneficiary or beneficiaries; and

(B) Provide the appropriate claims forms or instructions to the beneficiary or beneficiaries to make a claim, including the need to provide an official death certificate, if applicable, under the policy or contract.

(b) An insurer shall implement procedures to account for:

(1) Common nicknames, initials used in lieu of a first or middle name, use of a middle name, compound first and middle names, and interchanged first and middle names;

(2) Compound last names, maiden or married names, and hyphens, blank spaces, or apostrophes in last names;

(3) Transposition of the "month" and "date" portions of the date of birth; and

(4) Incomplete social security numbers.

(c) With respect to group life insurance, insurers are required to confirm the possible death of an insured when the insurers maintain at least the following information of those covered under a policy or certificate:

(1) Social Security number or name and date of birth;

(2) Beneficiary designation information;

(3) Coverage eligibility;

(4) Benefit amount; and

(5) Premium payment status.

(d) To the extent permitted by law, the insurer may disclose minimum necessary personal information about the insured or beneficiary to a person who the insurer reasonably believes may be able to assist the insurer locate the beneficiary or a person otherwise entitled to payment of the claims proceeds.

(e) An insurer or its service provider shall not charge insureds, account holders, or beneficiaries for any fees or costs associated with a search or verification conducted pursuant to this section.

(f) The benefits from a life insurance policy or a retained asset account, plus any applicable accrued interest, shall first be payable to the designated beneficiaries or owners, and in the event said beneficiaries or owners cannot be found, shall escheat to the state as unclaimed property pursuant to the applicable state law, including, but not limited to, chapter 33 of title 21.1 ("Unclaimed tangible and intangible property").

(g) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit the responsibility of an insurer with respect to requirements of § 33-21.1-7 ("Funds owing under life insurance policies") or absolve the insurer of penalties enumerated in § 33-21.1-34 ("Interest and penalties") for failure to comply.

(h) In the event that any resolution agreement or a voluntary disclosure agreement between an insurer and the state's unclaimed property administrator conflicts with this chapter, the terms of the agreement shall supersede this chapter.

(i) The commissioner may, in his or her reasonable discretion, make an order:

(1) Limiting an insurer's death master file comparisons required under this section to the insurer's electronically searchable files or approving a plan and timeline for conversion of the insurer's files to electronic searchable files;

(2) Exempting an insurer from the death master file comparisons required under this section or permitting an insurer to perform such comparisons less frequently than semi-annually upon a demonstration of financial hardship by the insurer; or

(3) Phasing-in compliance with this section according to a plan and timeline approved by the commissioner.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2014, ch. 183, § 1; P.L. 2014, ch. 209, § 1.)