The John Hancock Companies have agreed with six state insurance regulators to improve even further the steps that they take to ensure the timely pay out death benefit claims to their customers and beneficiaries.
However, in announcing the settlement, Dave Jones, California insurance commissioner, warned that other companies are not being as forthcoming in agreeing to comply with state unclaimed property laws and rules, and that enforcement actions against other insurance companies are likely. He did not elaborate.
Specifically, in his statement, he acknowledged the John Hancock Companies’ role in changing their business practices and settling this case.
“Regrettably, while we hoped that other companies would come forward voluntarily to settle, it appears enforcement actions are necessary to ensure other life insurers reform their business practices,” Jones said.
The settlement is the second with John Hancock, and adds additional safeguards for compliance with unclaimed property rules and policies to those agreed to in an April 2011 settlement with California Comptroller John Chiang.
Other companies have also settled with state regulators. They include MetLife, Prudential, AIG and Nationwide.
John Hancock, based in Boston, is a unit of Manulife Insurance Financial Corp., Toronto.
The agreement with California, North Dakota, Illinois, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Michigan was prompted by a multi-state examination of John Hancock’s activities relating to the identification of potentially deceased policyholders, as well as efforts to locate and pay beneficiaries.
It involves life insurance, annuity, and retained asset account benefits to consumers. John Hancock companies will also pay $13.3 million to the states.
The settlement is not effective until 14 other states join the settlement, according to Jones.