On Monday, February 17, 2014, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators’ (NCOIL) Unclaimed Property Task Force (Task Force) conducted its first conference call. Co-chaired by two past NCOIL presidents, Representatives Robert Damron (KY) and George Keiser (ND), the call focused on the Task Force’s overarching goals and on preparations for the March 7, 2014, in-person meeting of the Task Force at NCOIL’s spring meeting.
Representative Greg Wren (AL), NCOIL’s current president, opened the call by stressing the need to bring uniformity to the current patchwork of legal requirements relating to life insurance claim procedures and unclaimed life insurance benefits. That patchwork consists of variations in the NCOIL Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act adopted in nine states, different market conduct and audit requests by state agencies, audits driven by contingency-fee auditors, and different settlements between regulators and insurers. The Task Force’s Strategic Outline that summarizes the background, goals and structure for the Task Force can be found here.
After discussion, it was decided that the NCOIL staff will prepare a memorandum summarizing the top five issues posed by the current legal environment on unclaimed insurance benefits. Interested parties are invited to submit their comments in writing.
Commissioner Roger Sevigny (NH), a member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Unclaimed Property Task Force of the (A) Committee, is a member of the Advisory Council to NCOIL’s Unclaimed Property Task Force. Commissioner Sevigny agreed with Representatives Damron and Wren that NAIC and NCOIL should work together to develop one model bill. As Representative Wren noted, a consensus NAIC/NCOIL model that facilitated consumer protections likely would be adopted by more than 40 states.
The importance of the NCOIL Task Force’s work is demonstrated by the broad array of groups on its Advisory Council, including representatives from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), the Uniform Law Commission, the American Council on Life Insurers (ACLI), the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), the National Alliance of Life Companies (NALC), as well as representatives from consumer groups, the life insurance industry and law firms, including Sutherland. A full list of members on the NCOIL Task Force and its Advisory Council can be found here.
We will continue to monitor the work of the NAIC and NCOIL in this critical area.