Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis declared a “major victory” for Floridians on Thursday after a court upheld a law that required life-insurance companies to determine whether policyholders have died and required them to inform beneficiaries of the benefits owed to them.
“This ruling is a major victory for Florida consumers,” Patronis said. “Requiring insurance companies to conduct yearly checks of master death records and notify beneficiaries of funds owed to them could put millions of dollars back into the pockets of Floridians. Special thank you to my friend and former CFO Jeff Atwater for spearheading this important initiative and helping to ensure consumers come first.”
The First District Court of Appeals also stipulated that if a life insurance company cannot notify or pay a beneficiary, the funds are required to be reported and will be received by the state of Florida as unclaimed property.
“Over the past two decades, the insurance industry’s selective use of the DMF spawned numerous investigations and reports, litigation by state attorneys general, insurer settlements over disputed practices, and ultimately nationwide reforms,” the FDCA said in a statement. “The controversy arose because insurers were routinely using the DMF to identify and stop paying annuities to deceased annuity holders, but they were not using it to identify deceased insurance policyholders, resulting in an asymmetric practice that benefited insurers and disadvantaged consumers of life insurance.”
Since 2017, Patronis’s office has recovered and returned more than $960 million worth of unclaimed property to Floridians.
The State of Florida defines unclaimed property as a financial asset that is lost, unknown, or abandoned.
Floridians can search for the their unclaimed property online.