According to a press release from the law firm, the investigation focuses on insurers that allegedly delay or withhold payments to beneficiaries despite knowledge that the life insurance policy holder has passed away.
The insurance companies’ failure to take reasonable steps to determine whether policy owners are deceased and subsequent failure to pay beneficiaries may be considered unfair and deceptive acts that violate consumer protection and insurance laws, as well ERISA, to the extent the life insurance policies are part of retirement plans.
Keller Rohrback says that several abusive practices by life insurance companies have recently have been reported by the California controller and insurance commissioner, including the insurers’ failure to cross-check dormant accounts with government databases that list names of the dead despite the fact that the insurance companies routinely check these databases to cease annuity payments when a policy holder dies. Insurers have also reportedly continued to pay premiums to themselves from cash reserves built-up in an account for several years after the insured has passed, and then cancelled the policy once the reserves are fully depleted, without ever notifying the beneficiaries.
The insurance companies under investigation include MetLife, Inc., John Hancock Financial, and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, according to the press release.
Keller Rohrback has offices in Seattle, Phoenix, New York, and Santa Barbara.