Discussions on unclaimed property in France are starting to take shape, as French banks and insurance companies are being criticized by the country’s auditor for failing to report billions of euros in unclaimed life insurance policies and dormant bank accounts.
According to a Cour des Comptes report, unclaimed life insurance policies total over 2.7 billion euros while dormant bank accounts total at least 1.2 billion euros. With limited rules and regulations governing unclaimed property in France, the amount of dormant bank accounts and unclaimed life insurance policies has grown exponentially.
French banks have no legislative or regulatory obligation to research their customer database and confirm deceased customers. Therefore, some banks have continued to charge fees on dormant accounts. In such a laissez-faire environment, many banks have not investigated even the most obvious cases. For example, France counts only 20,106 residents over the age of 100. However—the number of bank accounts belonging to centenarians is 674,014.
The national auditor gave a few recommendations moving forward. To encourage more reporting of dormant accounts, the auditor suggested that banks include a definition of dormant accounts in their code of conduct and cap the amount of fees that can be charged on inactive accounts.
French life insurance carriers must make an effort to notify the beneficiaries of life insurance policies as a result of a law passed in 2005. The auditor is advocating for a ten-year dormancy period for unclaimed life insurance policies.
The number of inactive bank accounts and unclaimed insurance policies in France has been attributed to an increasing number of customers relocating and opening multiple bank accounts. We will continue to monitor these discussions and provide updates on any new unclaimed property developments in France.