Parker Waichman LLP

Minnesota Whistleblower Lawsuit Targets MetLife, Prudential Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits

A state whistleblower lawsuit filed in Minnesota is seeking $230 million from MetLife Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. over the way the companies handled unclaimed life insurance benefits. According to a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the complaint claims MetLife and Prudential failed to pay benefits on life insurance policies of nearly 600 deceased […]

A state whistleblower lawsuit filed in Minnesota is seeking $230 million from MetLife Inc. and Prudential Financial Inc. over the way the companies handled unclaimed life insurance benefits. According to a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the complaint claims MetLife and Prudential failed to pay benefits on life insurance policies of nearly 600 deceased Minnesota policyholders.

The whistleblower lawsuit was filed last year by Total Asset Recovery Services, a company that has sued insurers over similar claims in several states. The Minnesota lawsuit was brought under the state’s False Claims Act, which requires that the complaint remain under seal while state prosecutors investigate claims and decide whether or not to intervene. The lawsuit was unsealed last week after the state attorney general’s office declined to intervene. However, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said the state could intervene at a later date.

Insurers throughout the country are facing increased regulatory scrutiny over the way they handle unclaimed life insurance benefits. Insurers are supposed to pay death benefits once they learn a policy holder has died. If they are unable to find a beneficiary, most states require that benefits be turned over to their unclaimed property funds. Investigators in several states have launched probes under the belief that life companies are aware of the death of policy holders when they check the Social Security Administration’s Death Master database, which lists all Americans who die, but knowingly suppress their awareness. However, they have no problem using Death Master information to their benefit, such when as stopping payments to deceased annuitants.

In Minnesota, insurance companies are required to notify the state Department of Commerce when the benefits from a deceased policyholder’s life insurance policy go unclaimed for three years or more, according to the Star Tribune. The unclaimed benefits should then be forwarded to the Minnesota unclaimed property unit, which is supposed to locate beneficiaries and pay the money. The whistleblower lawsuit alleges that Prudential and MetLife failed to do that between Sept. 31, 1986, and Sept. 31, 2009, resulting in about 584 unclaimed policies when the companies “knew or should have known the policy holders were deceased.” The complaint further alleges that the average value of each policy was around $130,000.

A lawyer for Total Assets Recovery, however, characterized the amounts detailed by the Minnesota lawsuit as “only the tip of the iceberg”

“The magnitude of the life insurance fraud committed on the states is in the billions of dollars,” said Jeffrey Sloman, a lawyer for Total Asset Recovery Services, and a former U.S. attorney. “Nationally, the numbers are mind-boggling.”

According to the Star Tribune, the Minnesota attorney general and the state’s Department of Commerce are already jointly investigating how 40 major life insurance companies operate. Regulators in other states are also conducting similar probes.

Over the summer, New York regulators ordered 172 companies, including Prudential and MetLife, to start using the Social Security Administration data to determine when death payments are due. In December, the New York Department of Financial Services announced that since the issuance of that letter, companies had paid $52.6 million in unpaid death benefits..

As we reported previously, Prudential has already signed two multi-state settlements in which the company agreed to improve its practices for identifying deceased policyholders, locating their beneficiaries, or forwarding the money to the respective state unclaimed property offices when a beneficiary can’t be located.

What Our Clients Say About Us
We have worked with thousands of clients and we appreciate them and their positive reviews. Here are just a few recent client reviews...
5 Star Reviews 150
Positive: Professionalism , Quality , Responsiveness Benita Rollis was very helpful and kept me informed on every step of the process of my case.
Jose Crespo
3 years ago
5 Star Reviews 150
Just wanted to say thank you Parker Waichman it has been a long fight through this event also would like to thank Ms Stacy for hanging in there in keeping me updated. She did an outstanding job with a lot of care Great team work
miguel ortiz
9 months ago
5 Star Reviews 150
Parker Waichman is a great law firm and most of all they treat you like more than just a client .I was dealing with another law firm prior to dealing with Parker Waichman and they never returned my calls and treated me like a burden rather than a client. But all of that changed when I came to this firm they always call me back and never make me feel as though I am a burden . They also work very hard for there clients and give you constant updates on how your case is going . I have sent family members of mines to them knowing that they will have the same care and compassion for them as they had for me.
Michelle Curry
9 years ago

Why Choose Us to Help You?

We Take Care of Everything
Your situation is stressful enough: Let us take on the deadlines, paperwork, investigation, and litigation. We'll handle every detail so you don't have to worry.
No Recovery = No Legal Fees
We work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that we only get paid from a portion of your settlement or jury award. If you don't get compensation, you owe us nothing.
Decades of Experience
Your situation is stressful enough: Let us take on the deadlines, paperwork, investigation, and litigation. We'll handle every detail so you don't have to worry.
Respected by Our Peers
Judges, insurance adjusters, and fellow attorneys all speak highly of our skills, and we've earned numerous accolades, including a flawless rating from AVVO.
We Have Many Locations To Serve You
We have the experience and the skilled litigators to win your case. Contact us and speak with a real attorney who can help you.
Long Island – Nassau
Parker Waichman LLP
6 Harbor Park Drive
Port Washington, NY 11050
Long Island – Suffolk
Parker Waichman LLP
201 Old Country Road – Suite 145
Melville, NY 11747
New York
Parker Waichman LLP
59 Maiden Lane, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10038
Queens
Parker Waichman LLP
118-35 Queens Boulevard, Suite 400
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Brooklyn
Parker Waichman LLP
300 Cadman Plaza West
One Pierrepont Plaza, 12th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
New Jersey
Parker Waichman LLP
80 Main Street, Suite 265
West Orange, NJ 07052
Florida
Parker Waichman LLP
27299 Riverview Center Boulevard
Suite 108
Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Nationwide Service
Parker Waichman LLP
59 Maiden Lane, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10038