Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WA to get at least $450,000 in MetLife settlement

From a press release our office issued this morning:

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington stands to receive at least $450,000 as part of a multi-state settlement with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.

The $40 million settlement, which was announced in April and now involves at least 28 states, is based on concerns raised by insurance regulators over the extent of MetLife’s efforts to investigate and pay life insurance benefits. MetLife did not admit liability.

Under the terms of the settlement, MetLife agreed to regularly check the Social Security death master file or similar records to determine if its life insurance policyholders, annuity owners or retained asset account holders have died. The company will then make efforts to locate beneficiaries and pay claims.

“From what we’ve seen, I’m happy to report that there don’t appear to be major or widespread problems in Washington state with paying life insurance benefits in a timely manner,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “But it’s important to hold companies accountable when they fail to pay benefits when due.”

Under Washington state law, insurers must pay interest on a life insurance policy from the date of death. Unclaimed policies are turned over to the state’s unclaimed property fund, which holds the money for any future claims.

Washington’s share of the settlement, to be determined in early July, depends on the number of states that sign on to the settlement. The money will go into the state’s general fund.