Illinois treasurer calls on governor to sign life insurance reform bill

EAST ST. LOUIS, IL - The problem of insurance companies not paying off death benefits to beneficiaries has been on the rise across the nation. Not only are some insurance companies keeping death benefits from beneficiaries who don’t know they’re owed money, they are also admitting that they are doing it.

“Some of them have acknowledged in SEC filings this is part of their profit plan,” said Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs.

Frerichs says it’s astonishing how much money has not been paid to spouses, children, and others who just don’t know they are beneficiaries.

“I discovered over last five years a half billion dollars of money that belongs to Illinois residents and nationally seven and a half billion dollars.”

Frerichs was joined by the AARP and NAACP at a press conference in East St. Louis Tuesday. They want Governor Bruce Rauner to sign Illinois House Bill 302, which will force insurance companies to check and see if they are withholding money from anyone.

“We're defending surviving spouses and children of policy holders. It’s the right thing to do.”

Sharon Byrd of O’Fallon, IL, says her mother-in-law was owed money from an insurance company. Her deceased husband bought a policy for her, but she didn’t know about it or the money she was owed. They were searching the Illinois unclaimed property website one day and just happened to see her name.

Byrd says, “The elderly won’t be able to claim that because how would they know unless the insurance company reaches out to them.”

FOX 2 reached out to Governor Rauner’s office to ask if he plans on signing House Bill 302, which has already passed the House and Senate. They sent this statement:  "The bill is currently under review."