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Investigator: Unclaimed millions in life insurance cash

9:33 AM, Nov 16, 2012   |    comments
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Could you be among the thousands of Ohioans who are supposed to receive thousands of dollars from unclaimed life insurance policies?  The state is holding $73 million in unclaimed  benefits, with some indivdual beneficiaries owed as much as $500,000.

Channel 3 News Investigator Tom Meyer obtained a state database, showing there are 240,000 policies that Ohioans haven't claimed for one reason or another.

In some cases, life insurance companies fail to notify the beneficiary of the policy. In other cases, beneficiaries haven't been told of the policy or they simply forgot about the policy when a loved one passed away.

Rosie Maksym, of Parma, doesn't believe the insurance company told her mother, Eileen, about a $59,000 policy Eileen's husband took out before he died six years ago.

"Its unspeakable if that's what they're (life insurance companies) doing. They're trying to con people, to swindle them of what's deserved to them," said Maksym.

Life insurance companies have three years to try to contact beneficiaries following a policyholder's death and, if they fail, they're required to turn the money over to the state.

Channel 3 News found Frank Fencl living in Lakewood. The state has nearly $87,000 of his money -- a life insurance policy left for him from his deceased Aunt.

"Could you use the money?" Meyer asked.

"Oh yes, very, very much," Fencl said.

The trade group representing insurance companies, the American Council of Life Insurers, says companies do their best to track down beneficiaries. 

The group says it works with regulators and lawmakers on ways to insure that beneficiaries get the money they're due. Last year, the life insurance industry paid out $62 billion in benefits.

Ohio is one of two states that provides a free service, helping families of deceased loved ones find possible life insurance polciies.

You can file a request with the Ohio Department of Insurance and it will do the legwork. In two years, the department has heard from nearly 1,400 people. There have been 651 matches.

In addition, you can find out for yourself if you're owed money.  Channel 3 News has included the state database that lists names of beneficiaries, their addresses, the names of the insurance companies, and the amount that's owed.

To use the database (located above and to the left of the article) put in a name to search.  Click on the blue link in the search results to find out more details about a particular claim.

WKYC-TV

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