New Yorkers have yet to claim $11B

April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 7:46 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by Tracey Drury

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April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 7:46 AM EDT

Insurers in the region have held onto thousands of uncashed checks that have been "forgotten" by recipients.

Now those insurers are working to find those individuals and companies, and help them reclaim those dollars, before turning the funds over to the state in August in accordance with New York's abandoned property laws.

Though the individual checks may be small, the total dollars unclaimed are significant: $11 billion statewide.

Univera Healthcare and its parent, Excellus Healthcare, reported $1.25 million remains unclaimed from 2008 from 12,000 individuals and companies in the Buffalo area, as well as Rochester and other parts of the state.

According to Univera, most of the funds yet to be redeemed were allocated to Univera Healthcare members and providers. Checks may not have been cashed for a number of reasons, such as a member moving and not leaving a forwarding address, the member may have forgotten about the money or even died.

Independent Health has a total of $43,000 remaining in forgotten funds, following extensive outreach to members and providers to reduce the total. Those efforts included published public notices with names and last known addresses of payees. BlueCross BlueShield of WNY has approximately 1,991 checks totaling about $250,000 in unclaimed funds. A public notice published in weekend papers included uncashed checks of $50 or more.

State law requires unclaimed checks that are at least three years be turned over to the New York State Comptroller by end of August. The insurers start by making a list of names and posting them in legal notices to try to find those people.

Besides unclaimed insurance checks, the funds on hold at the state comptroller's office include everything from closed checking and savings accounts to rental security deposits, safety deposit contents, mutual funds and even credits from cell phone and utility companies.

To search the Univera list, go to univerahealthcare.com. The statewide database can be found at osc.state.ny.us.

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