The state of California is investigating MetLife Inc. to determine whether the insurer failed to contact beneficiaries when it was aware an insured had died in cases where a life insurance claim had not been made. The California MetLife investigation was announced after a state audit found that for two decades, MetLife failed to pay life insurance policy benefits to named beneficiaries or the state even after learning that an insured had died. If you did not receive a death benefit because of such practices, our MetLife life insurance lawyers want to hear from you.
Our firm is offering free legal consultations to anyone denied a death benefit because of MetLife’s failure to inform them of the death of a policyholder. To make sure your legal rights are protected, we urge you to contact one of our MetLife life insurance lawyers today.
MetLife California Investigation
Under California law, insurers must pay death benefits to beneficiaries within three years once they learn of a policyholder’s death. If the beneficiary cannot be located after three years or more, they are required to turn death benefit proceeds over to the California Unclaimed Property program. MetLife would have learned of the death of an insured individual via a database prepared by the Social Security Administration called “Death Master,” which lists all Americans who die.
According to the California Insurance Commissioner, preliminary results from an audit begun by the State Controller in 2008 indicate that MetLife failed to pay life insurance policy benefits to named beneficiaries or the state even after learning that an insured had died. The audit also found that, in at least one instance, MetLife continued making premium payments from the policyholder’s account until the cash reserves were used up, and then canceled the life insurance contract. MetLife engaged in such practices for at least two decades, according to the audit.
The California investigation centers on so-called “industrial policies,” which were sold mainly to working class people in the 1940s and 1950s. Payments on these policies were usually higher than the actual death benefit. According to the California Insurance Commissioner, the industrial policies held by MetLife are valued at an estimated $1.2 billion.