July 11, 2017
Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs was in Effingham and Shelby counties recently as part of a larger tour of area communities as he publicized his office’s latest initiatives.
One of those programs, iCash, seeks to pair residents and businesses in Illinois with lost property. Last year, Frerichs says his office hit an all-time high when it came to returning unclaimed property.
“We returned over $155 million,” said Frerichs. “So at a time when the state is not paying its bills, the state isn’t honoring its contracts, the treasurer’s office was writing checks because we think it’s important to get money into the economy.”
Another initiative, the Illinois College Savings program, helps families plan for and prepare children for college-related expenses. Frerichs says since taking office, he has negotiated a drop in the fees charged to participants through one of the state’s two savings plans.
“We cut fees that families were paying on college savings accounts by half,” explained the state treasurer. “Actually, more than half, a 57 percent drop in fees. And what happened when we did that? Morningstar rating service gave us a rating upgrade.”
Following the upgrade, Illinois’ Bright Directions savings program was elevated to one of the top two adviser-sold savings programs in the country.
Since coming into office, Frerichs has also worked on making sure life insurance benefits — more than half a billion dollars worth — are paid out.
“I came in and discovered that life insurance companies that sold policies to people, they died and they never paid out the benefits,” explained Frerichs. “So I think, when that person who had a policy in place dies that money no longer belongs to the insurance company, it belongs to their loved ones. The insurance companies said, ‘No, no. We hold onto it until they come and ask for it.’”
Arising from his audits of two dozen life insurance companies, House Bill 0302 was presented and passed both chambers. The bill would force life Insurance companies to notify beneficiaries going back to 2000 of unpaid benefits and awaits the governor’s signature.
Frerichs was elected as state treasurer in November 2014 after having served as state senator for District 52, which included parts of Champaign and Vermilion counties. Reflecting on his time spent in the General Assembly, Frerichs said the chamber has certainly changed…