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House OKs limits to life insurance policies by suspected terrorists

By Ricky Campbell

Insurance companies may be able to limit life insurance payments to beneficiaries of suspected terrorists.

Sponsored by Rep. Joe Hoppe (R-Chaska), HF1397 was passed, as amended, 127-2 by the House Thursday and heads to the Senate where Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) is the sponsor.

The bill comes in response to Syed Farook’s shooting rampage in San Bernardino, Calif., in December 2015 that killed 14 people and injured 22. Authorities suggest Farook made sure his life insurance policies worth $275,000 were valid before the incident.

After Farook died in a shootout with police, his mother fought to remain the beneficiary of those life insurance policies.

Hoppe said terrorists “should not benefit” from taking out a life insurance policy. “You should not be able to provide for your heirs or whoever you want by increasing your life insurance policy.”

Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) raised concerns about an amendment added to the bill, which doesn’t require a terrorist conviction in court to limit payment to beneficiaries, saying insurance companies could use the provision for other claim denials. Lesch and Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-Mpls) were the lone “nay” votes.

By definition, terrorism is a violent felony that involves premeditation and intends to terrorize others or disrupt government, business or lawful assembly.

Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan) said it was “unfortunate” these bills have to be passed, but added that this safeguard will help keep insurance rates down.

“If people are using nefarious purposes to take out life in policies and unjustly enrich their beneficiaries… that’s going to have a very big impact on ratepayers,” Halverson said.

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