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France: The fate of unclaimed life insurance contracts

On 13 June 2014 the French Parliament has adopted the Eckert Law aiming at updating the current legislation on the fate of the unclaimed life insurance contracts to strengthen customers’ rights and impose additional constraints to insurers. The Eckert Law has been supplemented by a Decree (Decree n°2015-1092 of 28 August 2015) which defines the modalities of transfers of unclaimed contracts to the French deposit and consignment office (Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations – “CDC”) and the conditions of restitution of the amounts collected by the CDC to the legal successors, beneficiaries or ultimately, to the State.

When informed of the insured’s death or, at the end of the insurance contract, insurers are required by Article L. 132-8 of the French Insurance Code to implement all means required to find the beneficiaries of the unclaimed life insurance contracts.

The Decree furthermore provides that:

  • the amounts deposited on the CDC will pay interest rate;
  • insurers have to provide information to the CDC concerning the declared insured, such as his/her identity, the insurance contract references, date of knowledge of the insured’s death or term of the contract, last known address; and
  • insurers are under an obligation to file these documents even though unclaimed amounts have been transferred to the CDC.

The new regulation will enter into force on 1 January 2016; insurers have the obligation to systematically transfer the unclaimed amounts of life insurance contract to the CDC, after a period of ten years from the date of awareness by the insurer of the insured’s death or at the term of the contract. The deposited amounts of life insurance contracts will be retained by the CDC during twenty years and will then escheat to the State in the absence of any claim. Equally, the ACPR’s powers will be strengthen to ensure the strict compliance with these rules.