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News: 2012 Press Release

For Release: July 24, 2012
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces "Death Master File" Settlement Payment From Metlife, Inc.
Nearly $4 Million Deposited into State's General Fund

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that he deposited into California's General Fund the state's share of a $40 million multi-state settlement agreement with MetLife, Inc. "I am pleased the California Department of Insurance is able to contribute nearly $4 million to the General Fund," said Commissioner Jones. "I also commend MetLife for cooperating in resolving this matter. This is another example of the benefits provided to consumers by the California Department of Insurance, at no cost to taxpayers."

The settlement requires MetLife to run the Social Security "Death Master File"-a database listing people who have passed away in the United States-to determine whether its life insurance policyholders, annuity owners, and holders of retained asset accounts (accounts holding insurance benefits paid to beneficiaries) have died. If MetLife learns that a policyholder died, it must conduct a thorough search for beneficiaries, using contact information in its records and online search and locator tools. If beneficiaries cannot be located within a year, MetLife must turn the proceeds owed to beneficiaries over to the state controllers so they can locate beneficiaries, as required by unclaimed property laws. As a result of the work of the California Department of Insurance and other state insurance regulators, it is anticipated that upwards of $500 million in benefits will be paid out pursuant to the settlement. The agreement also required MetLife to pay $40 million collectively to the states participating in the settlement. 

The MetLife payment follows a deposit to California's General Fund that the Commissioner announced recently in which Prudential Life Insurance Group (Prudential) paid California$1.6 million to settle charges in a multi-state "Death Master File" settlement agreement. Last month, the Department also deposited $15.6 million into the General Fund from a settlement of charges in a multi-state exam that found that American International Group, Inc. (AIG) underpaid workers' compensation premium payments. 

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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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