MetLife to pay $478M settlement

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MetLife Inc. will pay nearly $500 million in a settlement involving more than 30 states that claimed it didn't provide life insurance benefits to some of its policyholders, the company said Monday.

New York, which was not one of the states involved in that settlement, announced separately Monday that more than $262 million had been paid to 32,715 people nationwide by life insurance companies doing business in the state, including MetLife, after an investigation by New York's new Department of Financial Services. The total included $95.9 million to 7,525 New Yorkers.

The New York investigation found that many insurance companies regularly received a list of recent deaths from the Social Security Administration but were not mandated to use and, therefore, were not using, that list to determine if a policy holder had died.

"That means if a family member did not know there was a life insurance policy or simply forgot to file a claim to the insurance company, that policy went unpaid," the Department of Financial Services said in a release. "As a result, tens of thousands of families did not receive their life insurance benefits."

The dollar amounts returned after the New York investigation included almost $345,000 to an unidentified Northport beneficiary on a life insurance policy covering a person who died in 2007; and more than $217,000 to an unidentified Rockville Centre beneficiary on two annuities whose purchaser died in 2006.

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New York said it will require that insurers use the Social Security Administration's "Death Master File" to investigate policies for which no claims have been made.

MetLife maintains it pays more than 99 percent of life insurance claims and it has been working with regulators to ensure everyone is paid.

The nation's largest life insurer said it expects to pay about $188 million of the $478-million 30-state settlement this year, and the remainder over the next 17 years.

With AP

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