Showing posts from October, 2012

Another Insurance Settlement Announced: $300 Million from AIG

The now long running audits of the life insurance industry continue to bear fruit for state governments.  According to CBS News , (which cites statements from the California State Controller's Office) AIG will pay approximately $300 million to state governments to settle claims that the company failed to pay death benefits in a timely manner.  According to the article, the $300 million will be divided among 30 states and the District of Columbia.

Lost & Found: Escheat's Ancient Origins, (e-)Bay State Auction, Spooky Deadlines Approaching

Unclaimed Property's Ancient Origins Alive & Well - As we've mentioned before, modern unclaimed property laws in the United States derive, in part, from the ancient doctrine of bona vacantia by which "vacant goods" (i.e., ownerless property) would become property of the sovereign.  Recently the London Telegraph ran an article describing how unclaimed estates in the Duchy of Cornwall ultimately become the property of Prince Charles.  In the U.S., the sovereign powers formerly belonging to the British royals have largely become the powers of state governments.  No word on whether Prince Charles will be retaining a contingency fee auditing firm to make sure that he is getting his share of unclaimed funds in the Duchy.  (Hat Tip to LinkedIn's Unclaimed Property Holder Forum).   Bay State Unclaimed Property Auction Set to Begin -- From the former mother country to the Cradle of the Revolution.  This Saturday, Massachusetts is set to commence an unclaimed pro

Two Different Traveler's Check Stories, Same Ending

Two long-running judicial disputes over traveler's checks ended recently, both with the same result: shortened dormancy periods. Travelers' checks have always been something of an outlier in the context of unclaimed property laws, as they generally have a relatively long dormancy period (about 15 years, as opposed to 3 or 5 years for most items) before they are eligible for reporting and delivery to state custodians.  These longer periods are arguably justified by the fact that travelers' checks are usually purchased by travelers for future use (hence, the name "traveler's check").  In recent years, states have begun to question the necessity for these longer dormancy periods, and have been amending their unclaimed property laws to bring the dormancy periods for traveler's check in line with those of other property types.  Two states where this was done recently are Kentucky and New Jersey . In both instances, traveler's check issuers did not tak

West Virginia Treasurer Sues 10 Insurance Companies Over Unclaimed Property Compliance

When we last left the "Death Master File" controversy intersecting life insurance policies and the unclaimed property laws , it looked like things were winding down.  A variety of companies announced settlements , Congress got involved , and state insurance regulators were issuing revised standards for compliance. Despite those settlements, West Virginia Treasurer John Purdue has now filed suit against many of the same insurance companies alleging that they failed to deliver unclaimed insurance policies to that state in accordance with the West Virginia Unclaimed Property Act.   In most situations, either an heir or the administrator of the deceased's estate will notify the insurer that the policy has become triggered, and often there is no issue.  These lawsuits center upon what, if anything, the insurance companies are required to do to determine whether or not an insured has died in the absence of such notification.  According to the Charleston Gazette , the l