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CFO Jimmy Patronis: Life Insurance Search Ruling a Win for Florida Consumers

6/4/2020
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis released the following statement on a ruling Wednesday by the First District Court of Appeals (DCA) that upheld the constitutionality of a 2016 Florida law placing requirements on life-insurance companies to determine whether policyholders have died and to contact beneficiaries to inform them of the benefits owed to them. If a life insurance company cannot locate, notify and pay the beneficiary, the funds are required to reported and remitted to the state of Florida as unclaimed property. Since taking office in July 2017, CFO Patronis has recovered and returned more than $960 million to Floridians.  

CFO Jimmy Patronis said, “This ruling is a major victory for Florida consumers. 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.”

Outlined yesterday in an opinion by the First District Court of Appeals, this case involved life insurance, unclaimed property, and the “Death Master File,” a federal electronic database administered by the Social Security Administration that includes the agency’s records of the dates of death.

The First DCA stated that, “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 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.”

Read the full opinion from the First District Court of Appeals aquí.
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