2/2/2016 3:44:25 PM
SAINT PAUL – Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced today that his department has reached settlement agreements with three more life insurance companies that owed money to Minnesotans for unpaid insurance policies, annuity contracts and retained asset accounts.
The insurance companies are required to make good on unpaid benefits going back to 1990 and reform their claims practices going forward.
“Minnesota consumers have the right to the unpaid insurance money due to them,” said Rothman, whose agency regulates insurance companies doing business in Minnesota. “Under the settlements, these life insurance companies must honor their payment obligations to our consumers.”
The latest settlements are with AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, Jackson National Life Insurance Company and New York Life Insurance Company.
The Minnesota Commerce Department has now reached similar agreements with a total of nine life insurance companies. Previous settlements involved John Hancock, Lincoln, MetLife, Prudential, Transamerica and Voya (ING). The agency also continues to investigate claims and payment practices at seven other life insurance companies.
As a result of the agreements and ongoing examinations, at least $143 million in claims owed on Minnesota policies are being paid directly to beneficiaries. An additional $31 million owed to beneficiaries who cannot be located will be transferred to unclaimed property programs in Minnesota and other states, which hold the funds in trust until claimed by the rightful owners or their heirs.
The nine insurance companies have also made a total of $12.6 million in settlement payments to the State of Minnesota.
The settlements are the result of sweeping “market conduct” examinations by the Commerce Department to identify unpaid life insurance policies and annuities owed to Minnesotans.
These examinations determined that the insurance companies had inadequate information and procedures for identifying policyholders and beneficiaries who may be owed benefit payments. This included failure to regularly match their policy records against the Death Master File, a database of deaths compiled by the Social Security Administration.
As a result of these deficiencies, the insurance companies in many instances failed to pay benefits to beneficiaries after policyholders had died.
Under the terms of the settlements, the insurance companies now must take additional steps to maintain accurate information, use the Death Master File and make timely payments to beneficiaries.
“I encourage Minnesotans to make sure their life insurance companies have up-to-date contact information for themselves as well as their beneficiaries,” said Rothman. “Many people are never told they are named as beneficiaries in life insurance policies, so they often have no idea an insurance payment is owed to them.”
If you think you are a beneficiary of a policy from one of these insurance companies, or a loved one has died and you think they were insured under a policy with one of the companies, call the numbers below for information.
When you call, be prepared to provide any information you have about the policy and the insured person or beneficiary, such as a policy number, name, address, date of birth or Social Security number.
The affiliated companies included in the three new settlements include:
Talk to your loved ones about any insurance policies they may have. Encourage them to keep their policy information in a safe place along with other important financial documents.
If you are a policyholder, contact your insurance company to confirm that it has your most up-to-date contact information. This includes current address, Social Security number and date of birth. Also check with your insurance company to confirm that it has current information on the beneficiaries you have designated in your policies.
The Minnesota Commerce Department is responsible for safeguarding these funds and holding them in perpetuity until claimed by the rightful owners or heirs. The department maintains an online database of unclaimed property in Minnesota. Searching this public database is easy and free at www.missingmoney.com.