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News: 2011 Press Release

For Release: April 22, 2011
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Jones Announces Consumers Receive $17 Million In Suit Against National Western Life Insurance Company
Action Completes Final Phase of the Case

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that more than $17 million was distributed to 3274 senior citizens who purchased National Western annuities. This completes the final phase of the Class action lawsuit

"This case demonstrates why I have taken steps to issue regulations aimed at stopping the sale of unsuitable annuities to unsuspecting seniors," said Commissioner Jones. "I am also supporting Assembly Bill 689 by Assembly Member Bob Blumenfield, an important bill that addresses this growing problem."

The suit alleges that Chapman failed to disclose to the woman that National Western would apply surrender penalties if she withdrew money or if she died during the 15-year surrender penalty period. Since she passed away during that time, National Western deducted 25 percent as a penalty, denying her beneficiary the entire amount of the annuity.

According to CDI, National Western's business plan targeted selling annuities to seniors. The suit alleged the company set up an unlawful group annuity policy that was issued through an out-of-state group created by National Western, and the company sold the annuity to individual senior citizens, rather than to members of any groups. "The company created the plan to avoid California consumer protection statutes and other state laws that protect, not only the elderly, but all citizens against inappropriate annuity products and sales practices."

Ezra Chapman's insurance agent license was revoked and he faces an injunction which stops him from ever getting it back. As part of the settlement National Western is also subject to an injunction and agreed to change its business practices.

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The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2012 the California Department of Insurance received more than 160,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $64 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP. Out-of-state callers, please dial 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

If you are a member of the public wishing information, please visit our Consumer Services.

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