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Another Multistate Settlement Reached In Death Master Case
Genworth Agrees To Business Practice Reforms
For Release: January 21, 2014
SACRAMENTO, Calif. –The California Department of Insurance announced today that along with other state insurance departments, they have reached a settlement with the Genworth Life Insurance Company over the insurer’s use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File database. The settlement ensures protection for policyholders and beneficiaries.
“I am pleased with the outcome of this agreement as it is another success in our nationwide effort to reform life insurance industry practices regarding the use of the Death Master database,” said Commissioner Jones. “I am steadfast in my commitment to consumers and will ensure companies make good on their promises to their policyholders.”
Genworth, which has more than $3.5 billion in annual premiums, agreed to pay $1.9 million to state insurance departments; California will receive roughly $175,000 of the settlement amount. In addition, Genworth agreed to a number of business practice reforms, including using the Death Master File database to search its records for deceased life insurance policyholders so beneficiaries may be paid. Illinois served as the lead state in this investigation, with support from Commissioner Jones and insurance regulators in Florida, Delaware, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
For many years, life insurers have used the Death Master File to search for and stop payments to annuity holders, but did not use the database to identify deceased life insurance policyholders whose beneficiaries are owed life insurance proceeds. It is estimated that through this practice insurers avoided paying over a billion dollars in life insurance proceeds to beneficiaries.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California, regulating the $123 billion insurance marketplace. In 2012 the California Department of Insurance received more than 160,000 calls from consumers.