Florida Signs Four More Life Claim Settlement Agreements
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (Office), Florida Department of Financial Services (DFS), and the Florida Office of the Attorney General (AG) today announced national life claim settlement agreements have been signed with four life insurance companies totaling more than $3.4 million: Hartford Fire & Casualty Group for $2.1 million, Securian for $625,000 Great American for $400,000, and Standard for $277,000.
The settlement agreements focus on the one-sided use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF) to stop paying a deceased person’s annuity, but not using the same information to find and begin paying the deceased’s family or other beneficiaries for life insurance policies. These multi-state examinations were conducted by the lead states of Florida (managing lead state for Hartford & Great American), California (managing lead state for Standard), New Hampshire, North Dakota (managing lead state for Securian), and Pennsylvania (collectively known as the “Lead States”).
Florida’s allocation of the collective multi-state settlement payments by Hartford, Great American, Securian and Standard is over $243,000, which covers the costs of the investigations and future compliance monitoring. To date, state insurance regulators have either reached settlements or concluded the investigation of 27 of the top 40 companies constituting 78% of the total market. Efforts continue to be focused on the examination of the remaining 13 insurers.
In addition to the four life claim settlement agreements, a completed examination report with no violations has been issued to Primerica by the Lead States and Illinois (managing lead state). In 2011, Primerica launched its use of the DMF and has been using it across all lines of its business ever since.
Florida’s joint state agency effort was the catalyst for the development of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Life/Annuities Claim Settlements Practices Task Force, which had been coordinating the national multi-state examinations of the top 40 life/annuity insurance companies since 2011. In the five years since these efforts began, more than $6 billion in unknown or lost policy proceeds to beneficiaries have been returned directly by the companies and over $2.8 billion delivered to the states’ unclaimed property programs, which continue efforts to locate and pay beneficiaries.
Effective July 1, 2016, Florida implemented comprehensive legislation requiring life insurance companies to search the DMF and compare the records of both current life insurance policies and those going back to January 1, 1992, when trying to find beneficiaries of a life insurance benefit. Senate Bill 966, championed by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (DFS) and signed by Governor Scott, strengthens the state’s unclaimed property laws for the protection of Florida consumers and provides life insurance companies with a standardized methodology for locating beneficiaries.