Finding Beneficiaries

Weatherford attorneys and those in Mineral Wells, Aledo, Azle, Springtown, Millsap, Brock, Willow Park, Hudson Oaks, and other places in Parker County might find this article interesting. The article is from The Hartford Courant.

Connecticut joined 21 other states that agreed to a settlement with MetLife in a case that questioned whether the insurer did enough to find and pay beneficiaries after policyholders die.

The settlement means $40 million will be paid in penalties and about $438 million will go to unpaid policies that were written more than 50 years ago.This settlement amounts to nearly $900,000 for Connecticut beneficiaries,” Insurance Commissioner Thomas B. Leonardi said Tuesday. “Policyholders made their premium payments and have every right to expect MetLife to make good on its promise to pay claims. Working with fellow regulators on behalf of those policyholders and their families has helped accomplish that.”

The settlement was announced last month, though it required 14 participating states to become effective and Connecticut’s Insurance Department was not a part of the initial team of six states that investigated and settled. As of Tuesday, 22 states have signed on and others have until June 29 to join the settlement.

The New York life insurer, which employs about 2,000 in Bloomfield, settled as part of a much wider investigation by several states into life insurance practices.

At issue is whether life insurers are using a federal list of Americans who die, the U.S. Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, to determine prompt payment of life insurance benefits. Life insurers say that they pay billions in benefits every year and that they go to great lengths to find beneficiaries.

MetLife has not admitted wrongdoing but has agreed to strict business reforms to ensure that it pays life insurance benefits quickly.

MetLife said last month that it paid about $12 billion in total life insurance claims last year, and more than 99 percent of life insurance claims are given to beneficiaries and paid “in a timely and accurate manner.”

“MetLife has undertaken a variety of proactive steps over many decades to locate the small percentage of policyholders who have lost contact with the company, including using the Social Security Death Master File as part of this process to match virtually all of its administrative records in 2011,” the company said in a statement last month.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners announced Tuesday that $40 million in penalties will be divided among the participating jurisdictions.

States that led the investigation are California, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Pennsylvania.

“I am encouraged that other state regulatory officials have quickly added their signatures to make the agreement official,” said Kevin McCarty, the Florida insurance commissioner who is president of the NAIC. McCarty chaired the association’s Investigations of Life and Annuity Claims Settlement Practices Task Force formed last year.

“This settlement will provide resolution to beneficiaries across the country and help safeguard the expectation of life insurance policyholders going forward,” McCarty said.

Other participating states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia.

This article brings to light the reality that there are many life insurance claims that go unpaid by insurance companies. An experienced Insurance Law Attorney will know the remedies available through the Texas Insurance Code when life insurance claims are not properly paid. Also the Prompt Payment of Claims provides for substantial penalties when an insurance company does not properly and timely pay a claim for benefits.

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