Insurance companies are apparently being engaged in a multi-front war as they seek to resolve state probes into their unclaimed property practices.
The different tracks came to light when six state regulators announced that they reached a global settlement of unclaimed property claims issues with TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company, bringing to six the number of insurers reaching settlement on unclaimed property issues.
That conflicts with a statement by California comptroller John Chiang made June 7 in which he stated that he had reached settlements with 19 insurers on unclaimed property issues.
The differences also came to light when the California insurance commissioner said in a statement that New York Life and other insurers are refusing to deal with the state commissioners.
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New York Life immediately rejected that accusation in a statement, and noted that state unclaimed property administrators/treasurers and some insurance commissioners are more willing to work with insurers on the issues, as opposed to other commissioners.
New York Life’s statement brought to light the fact that independent probes of insurers are being conducted by state unclaimed property agencies or comptrollers, on the one hand, and state insurance departments on the other. The independent probes also involve use of competing outside auditing vendors. State insurance departments are also retaining outside auditors to conduct market conduct exams.
Besides that, West Virginia is suing more than 60 insurance companies, alleging noncompliance with state unclaimed property laws. The cases are awaiting court proceedings.
The TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company agreement to implement business reforms using the Social Security Administration’s Death Master database was made with six states.
They are North Dakota, California, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, and TIAA-CREF also paid a $6.2 million fine divided up between the states.
Jones said in his statement on the settlement that New York Life Insurance Company was among companies that were declining to settle with California.
“TIAA-CREF has stepped up and is doing the right thing for its policyholders,” Jones said. “Policyholders should be disappointed that some other large life insurers, like New York Life, refuse to enter into a similar nationwide agreement with insurance regulators.”
However, William Werfelman, a spokesman for New York Life, rejected Jones’ comment.
“The fact of the matter is that New York Life has already implemented the business reforms described by the California Insurance Department,” Werfelman said. “Any claims to the contrary are false.”