(1) An insurer shall perform a comparison of its insureds’ in-force policies and retained asset accounts against a death master file to identify potential matches of its insureds. The comparison shall be done on at least a semiannual basis by using the full death master file for the initial comparison and thereafter using the death master file update files for subsequent comparisons. For any potential match identified as a death master file match, the insurer shall, within ninety days after the death master file match:
(a) Complete a good faith effort, which shall be documented by the insurer, to confirm the death of the insured or retained asset account holder using other available records and information; and
(b) Determine whether benefits are due in accordance with the applicable policy or retained asset account. If benefits are due under the policy or retained asset account, the insurer shall:
(i) Complete a good faith effort, which shall be documented by the insurer, to locate the beneficiary; and
(ii) Provide the appropriate claim forms or instructions to the beneficiary to make a claim, including the need to provide an official death certificate if applicable under the policy.
(2) With respect to group life insurance, an insurer is required to confirm the possible death of an insured under subdivision (1)(a) of this section if the insurer maintains at least the following information on those covered under the policy:
(a) Social security number or name and date of birth;
(b) Beneficiary designation information;
(c) Coverage eligibility;
(d) Benefit amount; and
(e) Premium payment status.
(3) Every insurer shall implement procedures to account for:
(a) Common nicknames, initials used in lieu of a first or middle name, use of a middle name, compound first and middle names, and interchanged first and middle names;
(b) Compound last names, maiden or married names, and hyphens, blank spaces, or apostrophes in last names;
(c) Transposition of the month and date portions of a date of birth; and
(d) Incomplete social security numbers.
(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the ability of an insurer to request a valid death certificate as part of any claims validation process.
(5) To the extent permitted by law, an insurer may disclose minimum necessary personal information about an insured, a beneficiary, or the owner of a policy or retained asset account to a person who the insurer reasonably believes may be able to assist the insurer in locating the beneficiary or a person otherwise entitled to payment of the claim proceeds.
(6) An insurer or its service provider shall not charge any beneficiary or other authorized representative any fees or costs associated with a death master file search or verification of a death master file match conducted pursuant to this section.