ANICO Ruling Casts Doubt on Ability to Circumvent State UP Audits; Is there an Implied Duty to Undertake Death Matching?

On May 7th, 2013, the California State Controller filed suit against ANICO (John Chiang vs. American National Insurance Company) seeking an order preliminarily enjoining Defendant American National Insurance Company, a Texas Corporation, (“ANICO”), and any persons acting on their behalf, including directors, officers, or employees from: (1) Continued violation of California’s Unclaimed Property Law (“UPL”) (Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1500, et seq.) and (2) Further delaying the multistate unclaimed property audit. The more specific purpose of the action was to compel ANICO to release policy records that could then be matched to the Social Security Administration Death Master File (DMF).

On October 9th, 2013, Plaintiff Controller’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction was GRANTED, resulting in a big blow to the insurance industry’s hopes of finding a mechanism to preempt the unprecedented wave of insurance “death” audits that have been taking place over the past three years.  Anticipating this possibility, one insurer recently took a ‘glass is half full’ approach when commenting that it may be for the best as it would clear the way for the rest of the industry to move forward with their own reviews and put this matter to rest.  While it is doubtful that many insurers consider this ruling favorable, it is most likely the proverbial “straw” that will compel a greater number of insurers to take the next step in pursing their own resolutions.  At a minimum, this decision provides clarity on the question of state-mandated death matching in the course of compliance audits.

For more information on Cross Country Computer’s APEARS® death matching capabilities and to stay informed about other relevant insurance legislation, please contact Thomas Berger at (631) 220-6947 or via email to TBerger@crosscountrycomputer.com.

About Tom Berger

Thomas Berger is Chief Executive Officer of Cross Country Computer. Tom joined Cross Country in 1991 and acquired the company in 1996. During his tenure, Tom has overseen the debt-free growth of CCC and has been instrumental in strengthening the company’s infrastructure while simultaneously developing new services and diversifying into new business lines. Tom has personally developed the vision and design specifications for many of Cross Country’s systems, including TBeaut and CBeaut, our proprietary title and company name standardization products. In addition, Tom holds the patent for our Abandoned Property Escheat Assignment & Reporting System (APEARS™). Tom has served two terms as Treasurer of the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization (UPPO) as well as two years as Secretary of the Unclaimed Property Committee within the Securities Transfer Association. He assisted in the creation of a white paper designed to educate the holder community about unclaimed property review and reporting practices. Tom has spoken frequently at Unclaimed Property conferences and was honored with the 2005 Unclaimed Property Holders Liaison Council’s (UPHLC) President’s Award. Tom is also an active member in numerous direct marketing related organizations including the Direct Marketing Association of Long Island, where, in 2012, he was selected as one of three inductees into the DMALI Hall of Fame. He is also a lifetime member of MENSA, the international High IQ society. Tom holds a BS degree in Management and Marketing from the Rochester Institute of Technology and has received military security clearance to oversee our government accounts.
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