Allianz agrees to change its use of the Death Master File
News: 2015 Press Release
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced a $4.7 million multistate market conduct examination settlement agreement with Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America and Allianz Life Insurance Company of New York regarding the company's use of the Social Security Death Master File database. As part of the settlement, Allianz has agreed to a number of business practice reforms. To date, 16 life insurers have agreed to reforms in using the Death Master database to search for deceased policyholders and make benefit payments.
"Allianz joins a number of other insurers who have agreed to step up and do the right thing for consumers by reforming business practices to ensure the proper use of the Death Master database," said Commissioner Dave Jones. "I urge other life insurers to follow this example by using the Death Master database to identify deceased policyholders and pay benefits to beneficiaries when they are owed."
Allianz will now compare all company records against the Death Master database to determine if there are unclaimed death benefits and conduct a thorough search for beneficiaries to whom unclaimed benefits may be owed. Allianz also agreed to make a payment, which will be disbursed among the states that participated in the settlement. North Dakota led the examination with assistance from California, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. The company will pay $4.7 million to the participating states. California will receive a minimum of $500,000.
California and a handful of other states are leading a national investigation of life insurers to ensure life insurance companies are complying with the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act. As a result, insurers have returned more than $1 billion to beneficiaries nationwide.
The Death Master database, created by the Social Security Administration, provides insurers with the names of people in the United States who are deceased and have social security numbers. With this information, an insurer can identify deceased policyholders and pay out benefits;however, in some cases the Death Master database is only being used by insurers for purposes that only benefit the insurers, such as identifying deceased annuitants and cutting off annuity payments. The California Department of Insurance and its other state partners are working with life insurers to reform business practices in regards to the use of the Death Master database.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $289 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 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.