Perdue returns proceeds as unclaimed property
State Treasurer John Perdue continued to see fruits from a consumer protection battle he has been waging for years, as a Morgantown man on Wednesday received a $17,034.26 check for life insurance policy proceeds.
Albert Metz Jr. of Morgantown accepted the check on behalf of his mother’s estate during a Wednesday ceremony in Monongalia County Commission chambers.
His mother Adele Metz died without receiving benefits from a life insurance policy left her by her late husband Albert Metz Sr., who died in 1988.
The insurance company had held onto the money through the deaths of both husband and wife, who died in 2006, and did not report the proceeds to the Treasurer’s Office until 2016 – 28 years later. That turnover coincided with a full-on Perdue push to transfer unpaid policies from insurance company coffers to the State Treasury’s Unclaimed Property program.
Since filing an initial lawsuit in 2012, the Treasurer has argued that insurance companies should either pay out policies to beneficiaries upon death of the insured, or if no claim is filed, turn the money over to Unclaimed Property.
The office is just now seeing progress, paying out nearly as much in life insurance dollar amounts this fiscal year as it did in all of fiscal 2017. The office has actually processed more individual claims than in FY2017, with a little more than four months left.
“We’re always happy to return unclaimed property to rightful owners but these checks are meaningful in a special sort of way,” Treasurer Perdue said. “It is the continued culmination of years of effort, to persuade insurance companies to do the right thing and turn over these assets to us so that we may turn them over to rightful owners.”
The estate of Metz’s mother had not been opened when Albert Jr. received a phone call from aunt Susie Ballinger in Fairmont, informing him she had seen both his mother’s and father’s names listed in the Treasurer’s Office unclaimed property database at www.wvtreasury.com.
Curious, Metz Jr. called the Treasurer’s Office Morgantown field office and received valuable help from veteran staffer Sandy Barton.
“Sandy showed me how to do everything,” Metz Jr. said. “It seemed like we were good friends, like we were just talking to pass the time. We talked WVU basketball and all sorts of things. Then he said, ‘OK I’m working for you. You need to do this, this and this.’ ”
Metz Jr., 47, said his dad died in Virginia, which meant he needed to procure a death certificate from there. The insurance company requested a copy of the policy, another tedious chore with which he received help from Barton and a Treasurer’s Office staff member in Charleston.
“If they’d just paid it out I’m sure it would have made her a lot happier,” Metz Jr. said of his mother’s money. “It’s not life changing money but it sure helps out a lot. You’d think the insurance company would take initiative on how to get in touch with people. A red flag or something ought to pop up.”
Metz said he is thankful for Treasurer Perdue’s quest. “It’s wonderful. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have the money it and I’m sure many others wouldn’t. It’s nice having people you can rely upon.”
The Unclaimed Property Division last summer reported $16.4 million in life insurance proceeds since 2012, more than five times the amount the office took in prior to that year. The Treasurer instituted legal action in 2012.