- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - The state hasn’t tracked insurance companies’ payments of death benefits to Ohio residents to see if they are getting what they are owed since a national probe revealed large insurers were holding onto billions of dollars meant for beneficiaries, according to a newspaper’s investigation.

Insurers have made settlements in Ohio and other states and paid billions to beneficiaries across the country since Florida’s insurance office began a probe in 2009, the Dayton Daily News (https://bit.ly/1TwV9lg ) reports. The newspaper’s subsequent investigation found Ohio has collected $7.1 million in settlements from insurance companies since the national probe was launched, but has made no effort to identify how much insurers have paid directly to Ohioans.

Since the probe, about 20 insurance companies have paid to settle with states and seek beneficiaries for payments, but haven’t acknowledged any wrongdoing.

The newspaper reports that Ohio’s insurance office has done little to reach out to consumers to let them know they may be owed money.

David Hopcraft, a spokesman with the Ohio Department of Insurance, said a check of department files indicated no notices to the public or Ohio beneficiaries about the settlements with the state.

“The department is mindful that the companies involved did not violate Ohio law in this matter, and has let the issue find its resolution through the effort led by Pennsylvania and Florida as lead negotiators,” he said in a statement.

Ohio Rep. Michael Henne, a Republican on the House Insurance Committee, said the state should re-examine its process to ensure that beneficiaries are getting what they’re owed.

A spokeswoman with the government watchdog group Common Cause Ohio said there should be discussion about what the state is doing to help people get their money.

“Beneficiaries need to have information, and not everybody knows they are a beneficiary,” said Catherine Turcer, a policy analyst with Common Cause Ohio.

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Information from: Dayton Daily News, https://www.daytondailynews.com

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