The Unclaimed Life Assurance Policies Act 2003 provides for similar arrangements for unclaimed life assurance policies as apply to dormant accounts in banks, building societies and An Post. The Act requires insurance undertakings to take steps to identify and contact the owners of the unclaimed policies. If the owners cannot be traced, then the proceeds of the policies will be transferred to the dormant accounts fund and surplus funds disbursed by the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board for purposes of community and societal benefit.
The Act was passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas on 13 February 2003 and the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs signed the commencement order which gave formal effect to the Act on 10 March 2003.
Since March 2003, much has been done to ensure that the mechanisms provided for in the Act designed to notify account holders are effective. Section 9 of the Act obliges insurance undertakings to arrange for publication of a notice in two or more daily newspapers and Iris Oifigiúil every year, advising the general public about unclaimed life assurance policies. The first such notice was published on 21 March 2003 and a further notice was published on 1 October. The Irish Insurance Federation, IIF, which is the representative body for insurance undertakings, published these notices on behalf of its members.
Insurance undertakings are obliged to write individually to each policy holder regarding policies with a value in excess of €500 advising them of the provisions of the Act. I understand from the IIF that this process is under way.
The Act provides that the transfer of moneys by insurance undertakings, from unclaimed life assurance policies, to the dormant accounts fund will take place at the end of April each year, beginning in April 2004. At this stage, the yield to the fund from life assurance policies is unknown and will only become clear following the first transfer of funds at the end of April.