Bill Summary for S 665 (2015-2016)

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Summary date: 

Mar 31 2015

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2015-2016 Session
Senate Bill 665 (Public) Filed Thursday, March 26, 2015
Intro. by Apodaca.

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Bill summary

Adds a new Part 7 to Article 58 of GS Chapter 58, to be known as the Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act.

Provides that nothing in Part 7 amends, modifies, or supersedes the North Carolina Unclaimed Property Act, Article 4 of GS Chapter 116B.

Provides definitions for the following terms as they apply in this part: (1) account owner, (2) annuity, (3) asymmetric conduct, (4) beneficiary, (5) death master file or DMF, (6) death master file match or DMF match, (7) insurer, (8) person, (9) policy, and (10) record keeping services.

Enacts new GS 58-58-390 to provide requirements for insurers. Directs insurers, to the extent that their records of in-force policies, annuities, and account owners are available electronically, to compare their records with a death master file (such as that of the United States Social Security administration or any other database) on a semi-annual basis in order to identify potential death master file matches. Provides that if electronic records are not available to the insurer, then it is still the insurer's duty to perform a comparison on a semi-annual basis of the insurer's records of in-force policies, annuities, and account owners against a death master file using the records most easily accessible to the insurer. Provides that this section does not apply to policies or annuities for which the insurer has received premiums from outside of the policy value, by check, bank draft, payroll deduction, or any other similar method within 18 months immediately preceding the death master file comparison. Provides additional criteria regarding requirements for insurers under this section and specifies circumstances and criteria under which an insurer is exempt from the requirements of this section. Provides that the comparison required under this section does not apply to group life insurance policies for which the insurer is not the record keeper.

Requires an insurer who learns of a possible death through a DMF match or otherwise to make a documented good-faith effort within 90 days to confirm the death, determine if benefits are due, locate any beneficiaries, and provide the appropriate claims forms or instructions to the beneficiary. Prohibits the insurer from charging any fees or costs associated with a DMF search to any beneficiary or any other person entitled to benefits. Provides that if the beneficiaries or account owners cannot be located, the benefits and associated interest revert to the state as unclaimed property as set out in Article 4 of GS Chapter 116B.

Provides that failing to meet the requirements of this Part may constitute an unfair claims settlement practice under GS 58-3-100(a)(5) and GS 58-63-15. Declares that there is nothing in this part that is to be construed as creating or implying that there is a private cause of action for a violation of this part.

Authorizes the Commissioner of Insurance to make rules to implement this act, provided that such rules do not impose any duty or requirement that is not stated in this act. Effective when it becomes law. The other provisions of this act become effective July 1, 2015.