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Frerichs scores big win with override of Life Insurance Reform Act veto

Thursday, Nov 9, 2017

* It’s kind of a long press release, but this is a big win for Treasurer Frerichs, so here you go…

Illinois families are the winners [yesterday] after the Senate voted to override Gov. Rauner’s veto of the Life Insurance Reform Act, State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said today. The act will require life insurance companies to pay death benefits in a timely manner. Some benefits had gone decades without payment.

“This override vote means a countless number of our families will keep their home and a child will not be forced to drop out of school to support their family after a loved one dies,” Frerichs said. “Today’s action makes it clear that the people of Illinois will no longer tolerate loopholes that allow greedy life insurance companies to pad their bottom line using death benefits that should have been paid to grieving families.”

“I offer a special thanks to Senate Sponsor Jacqueline Collins, House Sponsor Robert Martwick, the AARP, NAACP, Citizen Action Illinois, and the many beneficiaries who stood with us to share their personal stories,” Frerichs said. “I also thank the Senate and House Republicans who followed common sense and set aside partisanship to override this veto and do the right thing.”

The Illinois Senate vote to override Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto of House Bill 302 passed 38-16. The Senate vote follows the House vote to override, which passed 71-40. The bill becomes state law effective January 1, 2018, despite the Governor’s attempt to veto.

House Bill 302 requires life insurance companies to compare electronic records of policies in force since 2000 with the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF) to determine if policies should have been paid to grieving families.

With Governor Rauner’s proposed amendments to the legislation, life insurance companies would pocket millions of dollars rather than pay death benefits to grieving families.

Currently, some life insurance companies do not pay death benefits when they know, or should have known, a customer died. Between 2011 and 2015, treasurer’s office audits found more than $550 million in death benefits that were not paid to grieving families in Illinois. Nationally, the figure is more than $7.4 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Opponents argued that life insurance companies would lose money if required to pay death benefits and that they are not required under the terms of the contract to notify beneficiaries. However, not every survivor knows about a policy, such as a spouse suffering from dementia, or has the capacity to determine if a policy exists, such as a child with a disability. There have also been instances of a person leaving money to a church or charity without telling the recipient, so the recipient would not know to pursue a claim.

In August, Governor Rauner issued an amendatory veto that outlawed the type of audits that found the billions that were owed to grieving families in Illinois and across America. Without this enforcement tool, life insurers would be able to act with almost complete impunity.

The use of contingency fee auditors ensures families receive every cent they are owed. Without the audits, insurance companies keep 100 percent of the death benefits.

With this veto override, the treasurer’s office retains its ability to effectively look at the books of large banks, such as Wells Fargo, to confirm it did not inappropriately keep funds from bank customers. It also allows for the treasurer’s office to preserve its ability to look at large retailers, like Sprint and Radio Shack, to confirm they actually paid out rebates.

In Illinois, unpaid life insurance benefits are considered unclaimed property and returning unclaimed property to owners is among the duties of the Illinois State Treasurer. Illinois hold unclaimed property until the items or funds are claimed by the owner or heir.

Treasurer Frerichs’ office never charges money to search for, and return, unclaimed property.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

23 Comments
  1. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 9:38 am:

    The message sent with this and other veto overrides seems to be if Rauner won’t lead or follow let’s get him out of the way.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 9:45 am:

    Starting here…

    ===Currently, some life insurance companies do not pay death benefits when they know, or should have known, a customer died. Between 2011 and 2015, treasurer’s office audits found more than $550 million in death benefits that were not paid to grieving families in Illinois. Nationally, the figure is more than $7.4 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.===

    Ending here…

    ===The use of contingency fee auditors ensures families receive every cent they are owed. Without the audits, insurance companies keep 100 percent of the death benefits===

    Cut.

    Cut to the chase seems appropriate.

    This is a big win for Frerichs, giving the play-by-play waters down the impact of this…

    ===With this veto override, the treasurer’s office retains its ability to effectively look at the books of large banks, such as Wells Fargo, to confirm it did not inappropriately keep funds from bank customers. It also allows for the treasurer’s office to preserve its ability to look at large retailers, like Sprint and Radio Shack, to confirm they actually paid out rebates.===

    This I would care about knowing in this win.

    It also puts on notice a pattern of failures by the governor, be it consumer protection, transparency, and anti-consumer, be it consumer of unknown products or citizens learning things that the Rauner Administration wants hidden.

    It’s a troubling Rauner pattern.

    Good on Frerichs and the Treasurer’s Office.

    Don’t lose sight what the message is with the noise that precedes it.


  3. - Put the fun in unfunded - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 9:46 am:

    Can we run a trailer bill to compare the social security database with voter rolls, and report the results?


  4. - Saluki - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 9:49 am:

    Frerich is doing a good job.


  5. - Anon221 - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 9:51 am:

    Rauner’s fit of pique with all of his vetoes, including this one, and reliance on the IPIes for “guidance” is really coming back to haunt and bite him. He’ll try to spin and backhand this into some kind of win for him, and it will be up to the Dems (and the media, too) to make sure he doesn’t. Kudos to Frerichs and all of the GA who stood with him (banned punctuation mark).


  6. - James the Intolerant - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 9:56 am:

    I saw a corporate yahoo for Kemper on 60 Minutes trying to defend the practice, unbelievable. I would think if someone owed Kemper money they would find that person.


  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    Good government is good politics. Big Brain Bruce never caught or bought that truism. Frerich gets it. It’s not all that difficult to understand, really. If you do good and right, maybe you can bypass the need to beg and grovel before the billionaires throne. The little guys might just get you through.
    But I’m a dreamer…


  8. - kitty - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 10:12 am:

    Well done Treasurer Frerichs. A victory for the citizens of Illinois despite Mr. Rauner’s predictable opposition on behalf of very large corporate insurance interests.


  9. - Tommydanger - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 10:22 am:

    I’ve been in public service in one form or another for my entire adult life. I’m neither bragging or apologizing.

    Frerich’s initiative and Mendoza’s initiative on the Debt Transparency Act are examples of what government can and should do.

    The fact that these measures are now law is cause for both joy and sadness. Joy in that sound measures have been adopted that address a problem in a reasoned fashion to protect consumers and taxpayers. Sadness in that both had to be accomplished over the governor’s veto.

    Imagine how much more could be accomplished if the governor and the legislature could work together to solve more of our most pressing problems.


  10. - Streator Curmudgeon - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 10:22 am:

    Insurance companies seem to get whatever they want in Illinois. This is a HUGE win for policyholders.

    Nice going, Treasurer Frerichs!


  11. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 10:22 am:

    Actually, I can’t wait for a D to make a video on what appears to be a heartless Rauner policy decision.

    Dear God, what is he thinking, with this being an election year.


  12. - downstate commissioner - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 10:36 am:

    anonymous @ 10:22: You think he can think? Yeah, its a cheap shot at him, but what the hey…


  13. - cdog - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    “Opponents argued that life insurance companies would lose money if required to pay death benefits and that they are not required under the terms of the contract to notify beneficiaries.”

    Not required to notify beneficiaries? What moral compass was used for that brain-dead statement?

    Between the House and Senate, 56 members carried water for an elitist robbery of normal folks.

    Here’s the m.o.–just goob-up the legal language and let the scams keep rollin’.

    Wake up GOP. There is nothing conservative or moral about this kind of protection which allows for a business line to do what is blatantly wrong.

    Thanks Frerichs. Thanks those that voted for override.


  14. - wordslinger - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 10:49 am:

    In the private and public sectors, Rauner has been consistent in scheming to not pay people the money they’re owed.

    On that front, you can count on him, always.


  15. - DuPage - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    Rauner’s veto gave new meaning to the term “fraud protection”. Not protecting FROM fraud. Protecting fraud itself.


  16. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 11:33 am:

    Rauner, by being who he is, has given Dems a truckload of ammunition for next election. A good ad campaign will simply rattle off 8-10 of the most egregious acts of this phony, deadbeat, (etc, etc, you’ve heard it all before). Just keep running it to death….it will stick, and hopefully, he will be gone.


  17. - RNUG - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 11:43 am:

    What’s sad is that you need to legislate what should be common sense and morality.


  18. - JS Mill - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    =In the private and public sectors, Rauner has been consistent in scheming to not pay people the money they’re owed.

    On that front, you can count on him, always.=

    Word, you may want to call the Biss, JB, whomever is running these days camps and offer that as a stand alone TV and radio spot.

    It is excellent, and an absolute hammer when you stare at it for 30 seconds and let the words sink in.

    Well done.


  19. - cdog - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 12:38 pm:

    One of the most creepy things about this is that life insurance companies factored in to their business models that a certain dollar amount/percentage would be never claimed by beneficiaries.

    I’d love to know what percentage of their line of business they thought they would get away with not paying.


  20. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    I am really looking forward to those “Rep Durkin voted with Governor Rauner and the insurance industry to…” flyers from Dan Proft, featuring quotes from the AARP and the Catholic Church.


  21. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    I’d say, overall, an ‘up’ day for Mike.


  22. - Anonymous - Thursday, Nov 9, 17 @ 3:48 pm:

    I work for an insurance company who has been already comparing their clients to the SS DMF since 2015, since this started coming down the pike. Don’t lump all insurance companies together as evil. We would rather pay the beneficiaries than the State of Illinois who is just looking for a way to get more money. If people don’t know to look at IL Unclaimed Property they will never receive their family members benefit anyway. I assure you there are insurance companies who are doing all they can to get the funds to the proper parties. We do participate in the DOI Life Policy Locator so if you feel a family member may have had insurance please go and submit a request thru the Locator.


  23. - KyleMCD - Friday, Nov 17, 17 @ 12:12 pm:

    Contingent Fee Auditors are Predators looking to make dollar at the families expense. The Life Insurance companies should be on the hook to find the rightful beneficiary.


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