Florida Reaches Milestone in Life Claim Settlements
Monday, March 23, 2015
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office), Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS), and the Florida Office of the Attorney General (AG) today announced that its joint effort with other states has so far resulted in successful investigations and settlements with two-thirds of the life insurance industry on proper death benefit payments to insurance consumers. To date, more than $1 billion has been returned to beneficiaries nationwide and another $1.7 billion to the states’ unclaimed property bureaus, including DFS, which continue efforts to locate and pay beneficiaries.
The announcement follows multi-million dollar settlement agreements with Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and its affiliates, and Pacific Life Insurance Company and its affiliates by Florida and five other partner states.
The settlement agreement with the companies and other similar insurers focuses on their one-sided use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF) to stop paying a deceased person’s annuity, but not use the same information to find and begin paying the deceased’s family or other beneficiaries for life insurance policies.
The Office discovered this industry practice during a 2009 market investigation and through a joint effort with Chief Financial Office Jeff Atwater and Attorney General Pam Bondi, became the first insurance regulator in the nation to reach a regulatory settlement agreement requiring corrective actions. To date, state insurance regulators have either reached settlements or concluded the investigation of 20 of the top 40 companies constituting 67% of the total market. Efforts continue to be focused on the examination of the remaining 20 insurers.
Established in 2011, the multi-state examination process is guided and coordinated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Life/Annuities Claim Settlement Practices Task Force, which is chaired by Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin M. McCarty.
Guardian Life and Pacific Life have agreed to compare all company records against the DMF to determine whether there are unclaimed death benefits, search for those beneficiaries, and otherwise remit unclaimed proceeds to the appropriate state authority. Florida’s allocation of the multi-state $4.45 million in collective settlement payments by the two companies is $342,283, which covers the costs of the investigations and future compliance monitoring.
For more information, visit the Office’s Life Claim Settlement Practices webpage. To search or submit a request for unclaimed property, visit www.FLTreasureHunt.org, or call 1-88-VALUABLE or (850) 413-3089.