Only about half of large life insurers have told federal authorities about concerns about possible customer money laundering.

Half of large insurers have filed no suspicious activity reports, and the carriers that have filed SARs have filed an average of fewer than 4 SARs each, according to researchers in the New York office of Ernst & Young L.L.P.

The researchers based that data on results from a December 2006 survey of 16 giant life insurers, the company says.

Even though the participating insurers were large, 88% said they have 5 or fewer staffers working on anti-money laundering reporting, and only 6 employ more than 10 full-time AML employees, the Ernst & Young researchers report.

All participants kept their total AML software and hardware budgets under $250,000, and 62% of insurers spent less than $100,000 on software.

About 64% of the participants have separate training programs for agents and employees, with 55% developing the training programs for agents and 79% developing the programs for carrier employees.

About 53% of the carriers evaluate policies for AML concerns when they are issued, and 60% conduct additional risk assessments on an annual, quarterly, monthly or daily basis, the researchers report.