NU Online News Service, July 3, 4:15 p.m. – The California Department of Insurance estimates that California residents are eligible to collect $9.5 million in benefits in connection with a $27 million settlement involving Unitrin Inc., Chicago.

Unitrin agreed to the settlement in May, in response to charges by insurance regulators that some of its affiliates had once used racially discriminatory life insurance rating practices.

The Unitrin affiliates involved with the settlement are United Insurance Company of America, Union National Insurance Company and Reliable Insurance Company.

Unitrin has already identified 14,000 California residents who own, or owned, policies affected by the old rating practices. Other policyholders and beneficiaries not identified by Unitrin may also qualify for benefits if they can show that they have owned affected policies, or that they are the heirs or beneficiaries of owners of the affected policies, California officials say.

The affected policies, known as burial policies, were sold mainly to African-Americans. African-Americans paid higher rates than comparable white purchasers, California officials say.

Most of the affected policies were sold before 1970.