The Unclaimed Life Assurance Policy Acts applies to unclaimed policies in respect of which are monies payable in the State to a policyholder who has an address in the State. A policy is deemed unclaimed where its term has expired, where the amount would be payable to the policyholder if he made a claim and the insurance company has received no communication from the policyholder for a period of five years or more after the last day of the specified term of the policy or the date when it last received a communication.
It is also deemed unclaimed where a policy does not have a term and the amount would be payable under the policy if the claim were made and there has been no communication for 15 years.
The Act does not apply to pension schemes, retirement benefits, group permanent health insurance, disability benefits schemes or superannuation schemes approved under the Taxes Act.
The legislation when enacted in 2003, provided for notice to be given by the insurance company in relation to apparent unclaimed policies. If no communication was received by a specified date, the encashment value of the policy was transferred to the Dormant Account Fund. In certain cases, a published notice would substitute for notice such as where the value was below a certain amount.
Each insurance business must keep a register of unclaimed policies. Certain information must be maintained on the register, including policy particulars, numbers, details of notices, date of transfer of funds, details of funds transferred.
The transfer of monies to the fund is without prejudice to the rights of policyholders to the monies concerned. If a person who makes a claim under a policy in respect of monies transferred to the fund proves that he is a policyholder, he is entitled to the monies concerned. The Agency repays the insurance undertaking in accordance with a procedure.
There is provision where an insurance undertaking is wound up. The liquidator is to submit the register to the regulatory authority mentioned above. Thereafter the regulatory authority is to process claims under policies.
There is provision for the appointment of Inspectors who may examine insurance company records for the purpose of ensuring compliance with legislation. Inspectors may inspect records etc. They have the general powers of authorised parties in relation to obtaining information and investigation.
The Inspector is to prepare report where he has reason to believe there has been failure of compliance or material defects in the systems, procedures and practices operated by the insurance undertaking. He is to submit a report to the regulatory authority who is the Minister. It is an offence for an undertaking fail to comply with the Act.