Insurance companies challenging Florida “track down” law

By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service July 17, 2017 TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) — A year-old law in Florida requires life insurers to keep track of their customers who die and then track down the beneficiaries if a claim hasn’t been made. Four companies who were in court on Monday to challenge the law say they are okay with finding the beneficiaries of policies that were sold after the law took effect. However, they are required to locate life insurance beneficiaries going back 25 years. The four companies, and attorney Barry Richard, say the state can’t make them return to 1992. “What they can’t do constitutionally is impose it retroactively and say, even though you followed the law, we’re going to change the law and you are going to go back and fix it at your cost,” said Richard. 28 life insurance companies have settled and are not challenging the law. The majority of the companies that settled with the state were already actively searching death records, so they were aware when one of their policy holders died. They just didn’t do anything about it. When the law passed, sponsors such as Lee County representative Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto estimated that state residents could be entitled to up to a billion dollars. “If the beneficiary did not know they were named in that policy, and didn’t make a claim for those monies, the insurance companies kept the money,” Senator Benacquisto explained. In court, the challenging companies say they never searched death records. “The insurance company had an obligation to pay benefits upon proof of death, presented to it by survivors,” Richard said. “It didn’t require insurance companies to constantly search records to see who died.” An adverse ruling for the state in this case could effectively stop the searches being made prior to last year, leaving thousands of deceased policy holders’ wishes unfulfilled. Earlier on Monday, a circuit judge in the capitol told the state it must limit what records it wants to see, and also limited the questions it can ask company officials when being deposed. The state promised to appeal the ruling.


About John Fagan

John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981. John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder. In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home. John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation. Professional Activities John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates. Service to the Community John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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