Multi-Million Dollar Death Master Settlements Reached

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced multi-million dollar settlement agreements with Jackson National and Axa related to the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File database. Created by the Social Security Administration, the database provides insurers with the names of deceased people with Social Security numbers. Until recently, most insurers only used the database to identify deceased annuity holders in order to stop making annuity payments, not to identify deceased policyholders in order to pay life insurance benefits

To date, 22 life insurers have agreed to reforms in using the Death Master database to search for deceased policyholders and make payments to their beneficiaries. Now, life insurers representing over 73% of the market have agreed to reform their practices and search for deceased policyholders in order to pay benefits to their beneficiaries. Under the settlement, Jackson National will pay $2.5 million and Axa $3.28 million to the states participating in the national investigation. Insurers agreed to reform their business practices and use the database to search for policyholder beneficiaries that might be owed benefits from a life insurance policy.

A national investigation by state insurance commissioners led to life insurers returning more than $1 billion to beneficiaries nationwide. In addition to the investigation, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners is drafting a model law that would require all life insurers to use the Death Master File database to identify deceased policyholders in order to facilitate payment of benefits to their beneficiaries. Jackson National and Axa have agreed to compare all company records against the Death Master database to determine whether there are unclaimed death benefits and conduct a thorough search for beneficiaries to whom unclaimed benefits may be owed.

Last Updated 01/19/2022

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