LIA site for unclaimed life insurance back online a day after snag

The Life Insurance Association of Singapore (LIA Singapore) says that the site is back up online for the public to access.
The Life Insurance Association of Singapore (LIA Singapore) says that the site is back up online for the public to access. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LIFE INSURANCE ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE WEBSITE

SINGAPORE - A new online register of unclaimed life insurance proceeds that crashed on Monday (Jan 4) due to a rush of people trying to access the site, is back online.

The Life Insurance Association of Singapore (LIA Singapore) which set up the register, said the site had crashed following "the overwhelming response". It did not say how many people tried to access the site which went down at 11am and remained inaccessible for the rest of Monday.

"We are currently working to ensure within the week that this issue will not recur. The register will continue to be available online as an on-going service to the public," said LIA.

The association added that it has received positive feedback since the launch of this initiative. LIA gave an example of a child who was found to have 30-year old unclaimed insurance proceeds from a policy of his parent. They refused to give more details about the case due to confidentiality reasons.

Members of the public can access the register at:

http://www.lia.org.sg/consumers/unclaimed-proceeds/list

With the register, they can check if they or their deceased relatives have policies with unclaimed maturity proceeds outstanding for more than 12 months. This will go a long way to help relatives of deceased persons claim benefits which they may not be aware of.

It is believed that insurance companies are sitting on millions in unclaimed proceeds from life policies. However, LIA was unable to comment on the exact figure when queried.

The Straits Times reported in 2001 that unclaimed life insurance proceeds amounted to nearly S$2 million.

The funds are from thousands of policies that policyholders or their beneficiaries have failed to collect. There were 8,185 policyholders across the industry with payouts due to them as at Sept 30 last year. Money left unclaimed grows over time as it continues to earn interest.

There are many reasons why these proceeds remain unclaimed. For instance, people could have changed their mailing address, forgotten to pay premiums, gone missing and migrated or died without leaving a will.

And some policyholders may not be aware that there are proceeds to claim. When premiums are not paid, a policy might not have lapsed. Instead, it would have become a "paid-up policy" and provided cover for a reduced sum that is payable on maturity.

Over the years, individual insurers have been making efforts to trace claimants through various means, including sending advisers to contact their clients, placing newspaper advertisements and listing unclaimed proceeds on the company's website. They will continue to do so even with the register set up.

The LIA said there is no expiry timeframe for these proceeds.

lornatan@sph.com.sg