MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET) issued the following statement today regarding its resolution of multi-state examinations related to unclaimed property and the company’s use of the Social Security Death Master File:
The company has been working with regulators to develop industry best practices and is pleased to announce new processes that will provide an even stronger safety net for the limited number of beneficiaries who do not submit a claim to the company in the normal course of business.
MetLife paid approximately $12 billion in total life insurance claims in 2011 and its records indicate that over 99 percent of life insurance claims are submitted by beneficiaries and routinely paid in a timely and accurate manner.
MetLife has undertaken a variety of proactive steps over many decades to locate the small percentage of policyholders who have lost contact with the company, including using the Social Security Death Master File as part of this process to match virtually all of its administrative records in 2011. MetLife agrees that periodic matching of administrative records against available external sources such as the Social Security Death Master File is a best practice, and the company is implementing a monthly matching process which it believes will be effective in identifying the small proportion of deaths where a claim is not submitted.
In addition, the company has made the decision to implement further steps to reconnect with many of MetLife’s oldest insureds (generally over age 90), many of whom either did not have a Social Security number or did not provide the company with a date of birth at the time their policies were issued. These steps include offering certain of these policyholders an option to receive the value of their life insurance policy sooner than provided for in the policy.
The total insurance in force for these “industrial” policyholders is approximately $438 million, for which the company is appropriately reserved. The company expects that $188 million of the total will be paid out in 2012, with the remainder paid over the next 17 years. In the first quarter of 2012, the company recorded a $52 million post-tax charge representing a multi-state examination payment related to unclaimed property and MetLife’s use of the Social Security Death Master File, as well as the expected acceleration of benefit payments to policyholders under the settlement.