WASHINGTON BUREAU — John Hancock Life Insurance Company says it has negotiated a global resolution agreement relating to life insurance unclaimed property practices with officials in 29 states.
That agreement will take effect June 1, Hancock says.
Hancock, Boston, a unit of Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto (TSX:MFC), says it also has agreed to a settlement with Florida.
The Florida settlement agreement calls for Hancock to pay state agencies $2.4 million to cover the cost of investigative costs and attorney’s fees, and establish a $10 million fund for life insurance policy beneficiaries.
Hancock has denied any wrongdoing.
The settlement and the global resolution agreement are the result of an ongoing investigation of life insurance industry claims handling practices. California launched the probe in 2008, and many other states joined the effort in March.
Verus Financial L.L.C., Waterbury, Conn., a contract auditor that has been helping states find life insurance policy beneficiaries and identify abandoned property, represents 35 states, and more states are likely to sign on to the global resolution agreement, Hancock says.
Hancock negotiated the Florida settlement with three agencies – the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, the Florida attorney general’s office and the Florida Department of Financial Services.
The multi-agency settlement is part of a multi-state investigation of insurers’ claims handling practices, according to Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty.
Florida, along with the other states, found that insurers were using the Death Master File, a collection of data published weekly by the Social Security Administration. to find annuity holders who had died but were not using the file to indentify life insurance policy insureds who had died, McCarty says in a statement.
“Unfortunately, this appears to be a pervasive industry practice,” McCarty says.
Florida investigators looked at records relating to Hancock’s use of the Death Master File, officials say.