Site to check unclaimed insurance payout crashes

The register has been down since 11am on Jan 4, 2016.
The register has been down since 11am on Jan 4, 2016.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LIA.ORG.SG

Life Insurance Association sets up website for public to check if any money is due to them

A new online register of unclaimed insurance proceeds crashed after a rush of people tried to access the site and overloaded the system.

The Life Insurance Association (LIA), which set up the register, did not say how many people tried to access the site. But it went down at 11am and stayed down for the rest of the day.

Members of the public can check if they or their deceased relatives have policies with unclaimed maturity proceeds outstanding for more than 12 months.

It is believed that insurance companies are sitting on millions in unclaimed proceeds from life policies. 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 $2 million.

The funds are from thousands of small-value 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.

You can check out the LIA Register of Unclaimed Life Insurance Proceeds at http://www.lia.org.sg/consumers/unclaimed-proceeds/list

Incredibly, some of this bounty is owing to people who have simply forgotten to claim it.

Financial experts also point to policyholders who have changed their mailing address, forgotten to pay premiums, gone missing and migrated or died without leaving a will.

But 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.

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.

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

LIA president Khoo Kah Siang said: "The LIA register is the industry's effort to reach out to the claimants or beneficiaries of unclaimed proceeds, which is on top of efforts made by individual insurers."

The LIA list will be updated every six months and will show information such as the policyholder's name, his identification number, which will be masked, and the life insurance company's name.

There are two search options - the policyholder's name and the life insurance company's name.

Mr Seah Seng Choon, executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), said the new LIA register will certainly enhance transparency in the insurance industry.

"This will remove the need for beneficiaries to do tedious search with each insurer in the claim process. This will also help relatives of deceased persons to claim benefits which they may not be aware of," he said.

"Having put up such a list, LIA will now have to get their members to do the due diligence to ensure that the payments are made to the right beneficiaries whose claims are supported by documentary evidence of entitlement."

The LIA list will be updated every six months and will show information such as the policyholder's name, his identification number, which will be masked, and the life insurance company's name.

There are two search options - the policyholder's name and the life insurance company's name.

Even with the register in place, LIA said life insurers will continue to do what they have been doing on a company basis to trace claimants.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2016, with the headline 'Site to check unclaimed insurance payout crashes'. Print Edition | Subscribe