North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm has announced multi-million dollar settlement agreements with Guardian Life and Pacific Life related to their use of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File (DMF). As part of the settlements, Guardian Life will pay $2 million to the states participating in the national investigation of life insurers and Pacific Life will pay $2.45 million. North Dakota will receive more than $43,000 from Guardian Life and over $53,000 from Pacific Life.
Life insurers have used the DMF for many years to search for and stop payments to annuity holders, but have not used the database to identify deceased life insurance policyholders to pay beneficiaries. Under the terms of the settlement, Guardian Life and Pacific Life will implement a number of business reforms to promptly identify when a policyholder has died and will use the DMF on a uniform and timely basis to search for deceased policyholders and make payments to their beneficiaries.
“Locating life insurance beneficiaries is a crucial part of this business and Guardian Life and Pacific Life have agreed to improve their practices in doing that,” Hamm said.
This agreement was the result of a coordinated multi-state examination among state insurance departments in North Dakota, California, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington.
The Department has been part of 20 multi-state settlements with insurance companies regarding life insurance practices and to date North Dakota has received more than $2.2 million.
Consumers with questions about the settlement are encouraged to call the Insurance Department at 1-800-247-0560.