Treasurer Loftis Applauds Florida's Action on UPP Laws
Friday, March 18, 2016
(Columbia, SC) – South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis issued the following statement in support to Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and the Florida Legislature for their support of their House Bill 1041 and Senate Bill 966 that ensures life insurance companies are held accountable for fulfilling the promises they’ve made to their policyholders.
“I am happy to see more states join the fight protecting against unfair business practice and to bring changes designed to help Life Insurance comanies to do the right thing,” said South Carolina State Treasurer, Curtis M. Loftis, Jr.
CFO Atwater Priority Life Insurance Bill Headed to Governor Scott
Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413- 2842
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater today thanked Representative Bill Hager, Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, as well as the entire Florida Legislature for their continued support of House Bill 1041 and Senate Bill 966 that ensures life insurance companies are held accountable for fulfilling the promises they’ve made to their policyholders. SB 966 passed the Florida House this past Monday and passed the Florida Senate unanimously today. Throughout six committee stops and three full chamber votes, the bill received zero votes in opposition.
CFO Atwater said, “With the passage of this bill, hundreds of thousands of Florida families will now gain access to life insurance benefits that have been left to them by loved ones – sometimes years ago – that they otherwise may have never received. The strength of the insurance lobby was shown here, but so was the steadfast support of the Florida Legislature, a body that refused to back down from what they knew consumers deserved. These Florida families will now be made whole, and will now receive funds that can cover an expense, pay a bill, or help save for the future.”
For more than five years, CFO Jeff Atwater and Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty have investigated systemic practices within the life insurance industry that grossly reduce the number of life insurance policies that are properly – and timely – paid out. By failing to utilize readily available technologies, many companies are intentionally shielding themselves from knowledge about policyholders’ deaths and therefore failing to pay out the resulting policy benefits.
Unpaid funds have remained inside company treasury accounts where they earn millions more in interest – all to the benefit of the companies and to the detriment of their customers’ families. Unclaimed property laws are in place to require companies to turn over these funds to the state, so that state unclaimed property program administrators can continue to search for the appropriate beneficiary.
So far, nearly $8 billion has been returned to consumers nationwide, with a half billion of that amount returned to Floridians. Half of the largest insurance companies in Florida have reached multi-state settlement agreements to do the right thing by their policyholders, and this legislation extends the consumer protections afforded through settlement agreements to all companies writing life insurance policies in Florida.
Representative Bill Hager said, “I am proud to stand on the right side of this consumer-friendly public policy. I am proud to have offered a voice to families unaware that their loved ones may have struggled for years to pay insurance premiums and ensure their final expenses were covered, and I am proud of my colleagues for standing alongside me with one unanimous voice in support of this bill.”
Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto said, “Life insurers have been withholding funds from consumers for too long. It is time that they fulfill the promise they made to policyholders that struggled to make payments in order to protect their loved ones. I believe that life insurers owe Floridians the due diligence to be proactive about making sure a benefit is paid when one of their policy holders has passed, and this bill will hold them accountable.”
The Florida Legislature has spoken and unanimously supported this bipartisan effort to protect the consumers of Florida. The bill now heads to Governor Rick Scott to be signed into law.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).