West Virginia State Treasurer John D. Perdue received another victory in his effort to return unclaimed insurance funds to rightful owners. A West Virginia circuit court has denied a motion to dismiss the lawsuits filed by Treasurer Perdue for unclaimed life insurance policies.
Treasurer Perdue originally filed suit against more than 60 insurance companies in 2012. Perdue took his fight to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and, in 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that insurers had a duty to identify deceased policy holders, locate beneficiaries, and pay out policies or turn over policy proceeds to the state as unclaimed property.
The case was remanded back to Putnam County Circuit Court for further resolution. Since then, many cases have been in limbo. Other insurance agencies have settled or have been in settlement discussions. This most recent decision allows all pending cases to move forward.
“This strengthens our position and reaffirms the Supreme Court’s ruling,” said Treasurer Perdue. “I just want people to have what is rightfully theirs. Now we can get back to the table and work on resolving these cases for the good of West Virginia consumers.”
In addition to the current court cases, over the past two years Treasurer Perdue fought against proposed legislation that threatened to strip West Virginia insurance beneficiaries of their rights as defined by the State Supreme Court. Treasurer Perdue strongly opposed what became known as the “Grave Robber Bills.” These bills, if passed, would have allowed insurance companies to refuse to search for deceased policy holders or locate beneficiaries.
Over the past five years, insurance companies have turned over more than $22 million in unclaimed benefits to the West Virginia Unclaimed Property Fund. For several years before Perdue filed suit in 2012, insurance companies returned an average of $2.4 million a year; in Fiscal Year 2016, those companies paid over $7.4 million in unclaimed funds.
Since taking office, Treasurer Perdue has returned approximately $168 million in unclaimed property funds to rightful owners. For more information on West Virginia’s Unclaimed Property program, visit www.wvtreasury.com.