Connecticut’s Office of State Treasurer has long been responsible for what is described as “unclaimed property” – assets that rightful owners have lost track of – as well as efforts to reunite people with their money. Now, the State Department of Insurance is getting into the “lost and found” business, too. Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade has announced that the Department is offering a free online service to help consumers search for a deceased family member’s lost life insurance policies and annuities.
“It can be a frustrating and overwhelming process at times to locate a missing policy. Whether you are settling the estate of a deceased loved one or trying to help an elderly relative sort out his or her affairs, the Department has resources to help,” Commissioner Wade said. “We are pleased to offer this latest tool that will streamline and simplify the process while protecting confidentiality.”
The Department’s Frequently Asked Questions will help consumers through the process. Consumer requests to find a lost policy are encrypted and secured to maintain confidentiality. Participating insurers will compare submitted requests with available policyholder information and report all matches to state insurance departments through the locator. Companies will then contact beneficiaries or their authorized representatives within 90 days.
The Life Insurance Policy Locator, developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), provides free nationwide access for help in finding old policies and annuities. There are an estimated $1 billion in benefits and life insurance policies that are unclaimed in the U.S.
Also this month, the State Treasurer’s office is closing the year with a push urging consumers to check the agency’s CT Big List to determine if misplaced assets can be claimed. State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier said the special online publication is one component of the Treasury’s efforts to reunite rightful owners with their unclaimed property and is available through its homepage, www.ott.ct.gov.
The mission of the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division is to safeguard assets until rightful owners step forward to claim them. Unclaimed property includes money from uncashed payroll checks, bank accounts and utility deposits, insurance proceeds, liquidated assets from safe deposit boxes, stocks, and bonds.
The electronic special edition at www.CTBigList.com has 49,729 names with property valued between $50 and $100; 36,467 names with property valued between $100 and $500; 4,941 names with property valued between $500 and $1,000; 3,538 names with property valued between $1,000 and $5,000; and 551 names with property valued greater than $5,000. Five owners have unclaimed property valued at more than $100,000, with two having property valued at more than $250,000.
The Treasury’s interactive website, www.CTBigList.com, contains the complete list of about 1.5 million names of individuals and entities that may be entitled to as much as $807 million in unclaimed property. The website features a searchable database -- updated with new names weekly -- that makes it easy for residents to find their names. Often, people are unaware that they have inherited money, and others may simply have forgotten an old savings account or payroll check that went uncashed, officials point out.
Treasurer Nappier emphasized, “Searching the Treasury’s unclaimed property website is free.” She said that state residents are regularly contacted by firms, often called “finders,” offering search services for fees that go as high as 10 percent of assets recovered – and that some individuals hire these firms, believing it is the only way to recover lost assets.
“But that’s not true. My advice is that before you send your hard earned money to strangers, check out the CT Big List first – there is no charge for this public service,” Treasurer Nappier said.