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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBSMiami/AP) —  A new Florida law is requiring life insurance companies to check to see if policy holders have died and then attempt to track down beneficiaries once they’ve passed.

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Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill on Tuesday creating the law. It took effect immediately and will apply retroactively.

Insurance companies also will have to turn over policy benefits to the state if they can’t find the beneficiaries.

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The legislation was a top priority for Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who said many insurance companies were deliberately shielding themselves from knowledge that policy holders had died so they wouldn’t have to pay out benefits.

Atwater’s office had negotiated settlements with many major companies to ensure benefits were paid. The law will now apply to companies that didn’t agree to settlements.

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