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Audits of leading life insurance companies have uncovered a systematic, industry-wide practice of not paying significant numbers of beneficiaries. Lesley Stahl reports.

Illinois task force to begin hearings on unclaimed life insurance benefits

Dan Petrella, Quad-City Times - August 15, 2016

California Controller Reaches $763 Million in Life Insurance Settlements

California State Controller's office - June 13, 2013

Multistate settlement agreements for up to $763 million in unpaid life insurance benefits have been reached with eleven life insurance companies, resolving unclaimed property audits in 45 states. The companies participating in these agreements include Genworth, Hartford, ING, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, Pacific Life, Sammons, Symetra, TIAA-CREF, Transamerica, and Western & Southern, and ends a five-year probe into what the California State Controller called “an industry-wide practice of companies both failing to pay death benefits to the beneficiaries of life insurance policies and ignoring their legal duty to turn unpaid claims over to the state for safe keeping.

The Verus Financial Story: Inside the auditing firm that shook the pillars of the life insurance industry

Michael K. Stanley, National Underwriter Life & Health Magazine - March 29, 2013

An in-depth look at the formation and operation of Verus Financial and how it has “significantly altered the climate of the life insurance industry” and brought “profound” changes to the world of unclaimed property. According to the article, “[t]he firm and the services that they provide are hailed by states and reticently acknowledged by some of the biggest insurance carriers in the country and the world.

An informative and helpful guide to finding out if you are the beneficiary of unclaimed life insurance policy benefits, and for avoiding scammers. Included are contact information and links to the websites for the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, and six national life insurance companies that have reached agreements with state auditors to use the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to identify deceased policyholders and reach out to their beneficiaries.

Life Insurers Pressed on Lost Policies

Leslie Scism, Wall Street Journal - August 12, 2012

An in-depth report on how states’ pressure on life insurance companies is changing how they handle unclaimed life insurance policy benefits and how such efforts are resulting in payments to beneficiaries years after their loved ones have died. Historically, small-faced “industrial” or “burial” insurance policies were prevalent during the turn of the prior century, but insurers lost track of policyholders’ addresses decades ago, which has resulted in millions of lost policyholders. Verus has been working with state treasurers to identify policies where the insured had died but benefits remained unclaimed, using the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File, a resource which insurers had previously used to primarily for its own benefit for the purpose of ceasing benefits to deceased annuitants. As a result of states’ efforts, three major insurance companies have already entered into agreements with states which “upend more than a century of practice in how life-insurance benefits get paid.

MetLife Settles Cases on Benefits

Mary Williams Walsh, New York Times - April 23, 2012

MetLife has become the third major life insurance company to reach an agreement with more than 30 state regulators to end investigations into the industry practice of holding onto unclaimed life insurance benefits rather than using the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File to identify beneficiaries. MetLife is expected to pay out to beneficiaries of small-faced, or “industrial” policies, as much as $438 million over a number of years. Together with Prudential and John Hancock, the two other insurers who have reached agreements with regulators thus far, payouts to beneficiaries are expected to exceed $1 billion.