A win for policyholders and beneficiaries

By Staff Writer
Policyholders and beneficiaries with monies owed to them, have been reunited with their unclaimed benefits. This is according to a report issued by the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA). The report is an update of statisticsinvolving the tracing activities of long-term insurance members up to June of this year. It was focused on locating policyholders and beneficiaries who had assets that were unclaimed owing to them.

According to the report, 431 364 cases of policyholders and beneficiaries have been reunited with their unclaimed benefits. This is since the implementation of the ASISA Standard on Unclaimed Assets in June 2013.
 
This brings the figure to just over a third of ‘lost’ policyholders and beneficiaries that have been contacted and paid their benefits, said deputy CEO of ASISA, Peter Dempsey.
 
But with that Dempsey added that 757 791 policyholders and beneficiaries must still be traced.
 
He highlighted, however, that the total number of policyholders to be traced will always fluctuate. “There will always be policyholders who do not update their contact details and beneficiary details. Our Standard on Unclaimed Assets requires life insurers to start the process of tracing policyholders or beneficiaries within six months of the assets becoming payable.”
 
  Policyholders/beneficiaries traced Policyholders/beneficiaries not yet located
Within 6 months of benefit becoming payable 159 183 119 595
Within 3 years of benefit becoming payable 165 004 331 084
Within 10 years of benefit becoming payable 107 177 307 112
TOTAL (as at 30 June 2015) 431 364 757 791
Source: ASISA
 
Furthermore it was reported that the majority of customers not yet reached, as well as those already contacted, fall into the three-year category.
 
Dempsey noted: “This indicates that the tracing efforts of life insurers are paying off. With time, however, we expect the majority of tracing efforts to reflect in the six months category.”
 
He went on to reveal that the reports received from member companies indicated an array of at least four different tracing initiatives per case, including the use of tracing agencies, private investigators, the Department of Home Affairs and credit bureaus. They have also implemented a number of innovative tracing methods recently, like the use of various social media platforms and the approaching of professional membership bodies.
 
“ASISA Standard on Unclaimed Assets exempts unclaimed assets from the Prescription Act, which provides for a three-year period within which a debt must be collected. This means that life insurers who are ASISA members are committed to holding and growing unclaimed policy benefits until the rightful owner is found, no matter how long it takes,” remarked Dempsey.
 
It was further said that while the current Standard can only be applied to unclaimed long-term insurance benefits, they are hoping this will change in January next year when the Standard becomes effective for Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) assets as well. The institution is also currently liaising with the Financial Services Board (FSB) on extending the principles within the Standard to cover unclaimed pension fund benefits.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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