Some Illinois residents are speaking out in support of a bill to make it easier for people to receive life insurance benefits.
In Normal, during a meeting of a task force formed by Democratic State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Charlene Clark of Springfield fought back tears, saying people worked hard to pay for these policies.
"For two, three, four thousand dollar policies, they paid," she said. "They didn't expect that a big insurance company was going to keep them."
But, in answering questions in Normal from Republican State Representative Dan Brady, Clark admitted her insurer has not yet denied claims on her mother's policy.
"And so it hasn't been that any company has shut you out, per se," Brady said.
"No," Clark responded.
The meeting is part of a statewide tour to get the word out about life insurance practices in Illinois. Chicago and Decatur are the next stops. Frerichs said the ultimate goal of the task force meetings is to make sure people's last wishes are honored.
"They faithfully made insurance policy premium payments with the idea of not enriching insurance executives, but taking care of a loved one in their life," he said. "And we want to make sure those loved ones are paid in a timely manner."
The Illinois General Assembly passed Frerichs' bill to require life insurers to use a government database to verify the status of policyholders and unpaid beneficiaries. The legislation sits at Governor Bruce Rauner's desk.
The task force includes Frerichs and members of the General Assembly, Citizens Action Illinois, the NAACP and the AARP. Life insurance provider Kemper Corporation was also invited to participate, but has not accepted the invitation.
Kemper is in a legal battle over a request for an audit from Frerichs' office. The information received in the audit would be checked against a federal death database. The lawsuit argues the treasurer doesn't have such authority. When the suit was filed, Kemper stated that it has paid valid claims and followed state law for years.