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News: 2012 Press Release
For Release: June 15, 2012
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces "Death Master File" Settlement Payment from Prudential Insurance Company
$1.6 Million Deposited into State's General Fund
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that he has deposited into California's General Fund California's share of a $17 million multi-state settlement agreement with Prudential Life Insurance Company Group (Prudential). Prudential is the first insurer to settle the multi-state insurance commissioners' investigation into practices related to the "Death Master File."
"I'm pleased that we are able to deposit $1.6 million into the state's General Fund. I want to acknowledge Prudential Life Insurance Company's cooperation in resolving this matter, as the first company to reach a settlement with insurance regulators they should be commended for doing the right thing," said Commissioner Jones. "This is an excellent example of the value that the Department of Insurance delivers to consumers, at no cost to the taxpayers. "
The settlement agreement requires Prudential regularly to check the Social Security Administration's "Death Master File"-a database with the names and identifying information of all people who have passed away in the United States-to determine whether any of its life insurance policyholders, owners of annuities, and holders of retained asset accounts have died. If Prudential finds that a policyholder has died, the agreement requires Prudential to conduct a thorough search for beneficiaries, using all contact information in its records and online search and locator tools. If beneficiaries cannot be located, Prudential must turn the proceeds owed to beneficiaries over to the states as required by state unclaimed property laws.
The agreement required Prudential to pay $17 million collectively to the states participating in the settlement. Benefits owed to beneficiaries will be paid once they have been located. Paid benefit amounts will be determined according to the terms of each individual policy.
The Prudential payment follows another deposit to California's General Fund that the Commissioner announced just last week in which American International Group, Inc. (AIG) paid California $15.6 million to settle charges in a multi-state exam that the company underreported workers' compensation premium payments.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2013 the California Department of Insurance received more than 170,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $63 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 or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.