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Insurance ruling leads to rise in unclaimed property

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Supreme Court decision from earlier this year has led to a jump in unclaimed property that the state treasurer’s office is trying to return to West Virginia residents.

With $3.1 million returned between July and September, the office projects it will reimburse $12 million in unclaimed property before the fiscal year ends June 30, 2016, according to State Treasurer John Perdue’s office.

That’s a significant increase from the $9 million returned in fiscal 2015. Perdue’s office attributes the increase, at least in part, to a state Supreme Court decision in June that said life insurance companies have an obligation to determine whether a policy holder has died and to turn over abandoned proceeds to the state unclaimed property fund.

The unanimous ruling reversed a Putnam Circuit Court ruling by Circuit Judge Joseph Reeder, in which the judge agreed that insurance companies were only required to pay out policies to the deceased’s heirs when a claim was filed by a beneficiary.

Perdue had filed suit against 63 insurance companies in Putnam County…

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