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UNCLAIMED PROPERTY FOCUS is a blog written by and for UPPO members, featuring diverse perspectives and insights from unclaimed property practitioners across the U.S. and Canada. We welcome your submissions to Unclaimed Property Focus. Please contact Tim Dressen via tim@uppo.org with any questions about submitting a blog post for consideration and refer to our editorial guidelines when writing your blog post. Disclaimer: Information and/or comments to this blog is not intended as a substitute for legal advice on compliance or reporting requirements.

 

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Regulatory UP-Date 2013: The Story So Far

Posted By GRAC Member, Michael Rato, Sunday, May 12, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When UPPO issued its last Regulatory UP-Date in January, the headline item was about Delaware: specifically, the creation of a new (and temporary) Voluntary Disclosure Agreement program run by the Secretary of State’s office. While that program has received a significant amount of publicity from the state, service providers, and the unclaimed property media (to the extent that there is such a thing), the first third of the year has also seen a variety of other legislative developments that may be of interest to holders in particular industries or states. We encourage you to follow UPPO’s govWATCH for the most up to date information, but below is a sampling of some of legislative changes that have already been enacted in 2013.

Developments for Insurers

The past few years have seen substantial regulatory developments relating to life insurers, and this year seems to be continuing that trend. For example, on March 29, Montana enacted the "Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act” (Montana Senate Bill 34), which will require insurers and related entities, starting next year, to compare their policies against the Social Security Administration’s death master file (or a similar database) on a semiannual basis. Similar searches will be required in New Mexico beginning July 1 of this year, and in North Dakota before next November, as a result of legislation that passed in those states (New Mexico Senate Bill 312, enacted April 1; North Dakota House Bill 1171, enacted April 30). Back on the East Coast, insurers in the Empire State will be required to make these searches on a quarterly basis as a result of NY Assembly Bill 1831, enacted March 15.

Gift Cards

There have also been a few developments relating to gift cards. In Colorado, new legislation (Colorado House Bill 1102, enacted March 15) created a reporting exemption for "small” issuers of gift cards, providing that holders selling less than $200,000 per year of gift cards are not required to report unclaimed cards to the state. Also of note, the newly created Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) published its long awaited determination concerning whether Maine and Tennessee unclaimed property laws relating to gift cards are preempted by federal law. UPPO’s earlier coverage of the decision can be found here, but in short, the CFPB ruled that all of the applicable laws were valid and enforceable with the exception of one provision of the Tennessee Act that would permit an issuer to refuse to honor a gift card as soon as two years from the date of issuance (which is inconsistent with provisions of federal law generally requiring most gift cards to remain valid for at least five years).

Process and Procedure

A number of bills signed into law thus far this year deal with the procedural nuts and bolts of reporting, remitting, and/or claiming abandoned property. In Florida, Senate Bill 464 (enacted April 30) allows the Department of Financial Services to accept owner claims electronically. Conversely, Indiana Senate Bill 222 (enacted April 12) will require holders to report property electronically. That law also purports to change the priority rules (and other requirements) for safe deposit box items, providing that Indiana may take custody of both (a) abandoned safe deposit boxes in Indiana and (b) abandoned safe deposit boxes outside of Indiana held for Indiana residents. In Alabama, House Bill 112 made a wide variety of changes – substantive and procedural – to Alabama’s Unclaimed Property Act. UPPO’s earlier overview of that legislation can be found here. Two unclaimed property bills have been passed in North Dakota, one adding a definition of "money orders” to the Unclaimed Property Act (North Dakota House Bill 1162, approved April 1), the other allowing the state to contract with private parties to perform audits where the state has "reason to believe” a holder has not complied with the Act (North Dakota Senate Bill 2058, approved March 14).

Although Delaware has grabbed most of the headlines in 2013 thus far, other state legislatures have also been busy in the unclaimed property area. We encourage you to consult govWATCH for the most up-to-date information.

OTHER RESOURCES
govWATCH
Michael Rato - LinkedIn


The analysis and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization or its officers, directors or members. This summary document provides background information and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.

Tags:  Advocacy  Compliance  Due Diligence  Gift Cards  Insurance  Members  Policy  UP Laws 

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