California Controller John Chiang and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans are going toe-to-toe over access to Thrivent policyholder records related to unclaimed property.
Chiang filed suit in Sacramento Tuesday demanding that Thrivent, based in Minneapolis, turn over records necessary to determine if Thrivent is failing to pay death benefits to the beneficiaries of policyholders known to be deceased.
It followed Thrivent’s decision to file suit Oct. 30 in San Francisco seeking to limit the information that California will receive in order to comply with California’s audit authority.
David Westmark, Thrivent’s senior counsel, said in response to Chiang’s suit that California “is filing suit to receive data that goes far beyond his authority to receive.”
Westmark said that Thrivent believes Chiang is entitled to access an insurer’s records “for data that would reasonably lead to the discovery of unclaimed property for California.”
Yet, Westmark said, Chiang is asking for private information regarding all policyholders in all 50 states for the last 20 years. Westmark said Chiang’s contract auditor, Kelmar Co. of Boston, is seeking not just names of policyholders, but also addresses, Social Security numbers, date of birth data, policy values and not only on the insured but on policy owners and beneficiaries.
“There is no way that information on an insured in Wyoming that has no contact with the state of California would ever lead to the discovery of unclaimed property that California is entitled to receive,” Westmark said. “The real issue is protecting the privacy of Thrivent’s members. The controller can audit to the extent of his authority, but not beyond that.”