HELENA, Mont. -

A bill signed into law on Friday requires life insurance companies to search for beneficiaries when a policyholder dies, even if no claims have been submitted.
The law was a response to a series of national settlement agreements in which life insurance companies were charged with making little to no effort to find beneficiaries, instead keeping death benefits for years before turning it over to states as unclaimed property.
Senate Bill 34 requires life insurance companies to check the Social Security Administration's death master file at least twice a year to find out if any of its policyholders have died. In those cases, the company must determine if any surviving family members are owed money and pay the benefits or turn the money over to the state as unclaimed property.