Michigan is one of forty states that have to date joined in a
$40 million settlement agreement with Metropolitan Life Insurance
Company ("MetLife") over allegations that MetLife
asymmetrically used the Social Security Administration's Death
Master File ("DMF"), avoiding the discovery of names of
its deceased life insurance policyholders.
The DMF is a database created and updated on a quarterly basis
by the Social Security Administration. It contains upwards of 60
million death notices for individuals enrolled in the Social
Security Program over the last 80 years, with information culled
from government agencies as well as funeral directors and financial
Regulators from a number of states initiated an investigation
into MetLife's practices based on allegations that MetLife was
using the DMF to identify deceased annuitants so that MetLife could
cease making annuity payments, but failed to similarly use the
database to identify deceased life insurance policyholders. The
National Association of Insurance Commissioners coordinated the
investigation and created a multi-state task force in 2011 to
oversee state efforts.
In addition to MetLife's agreement to provide $40 million to
participating states to cover the costs of the investigation,
MetLife agreed to make additional payments to unpaid beneficiaries
in an amount which could exceed $400 million. MetLife is required
by the terms of the settlement to use the DMF or a similar records
database to identify deceased policyholders and to pay interest on
unpaid claims dating back to 1995. The settlement also requires
MetLife to attempt to locate beneficiaries of individuals
identified in its review of the DMF and to report any unpaid funds
as unclaimed property to state insurance agencies if no beneficiary
Additional states have until June 29 to participate in the
settlement with MetLife, but a sufficient number of jurisdictions
have already joined the agreement to trigger MetLife's payment
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