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N.Y. AG looks to catch insurers dead to rights over death payouts

The state is cracking down on insurers using the Social Security death database to their own benefit

Nine life insurers have been subpoenaed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a probe investigating whether the industry has improperly paid up on policies of holders who have passed away.

The subpoenas were sent to units of AXA SA, Genworth Financial Inc., Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, Manulife Financial Corp., Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., MetLife Inc., New York Life Insurance Co., Prudential Financial Inc. and TIAA-CREF, the Wall Street Journal reports.

An additional 160 letters will be mailed by the insurance department to insurers, requesting that they check their policyholder lists against the Social Security death benefits database to ensure that all benefit payments are up-to-date. Additionally, the insurers will be required to report back to the state on their findings.

The state is concerned insurers are only using the database when it’s beneficial to their business, but not when it could mean learning about potential payouts to deceased policyholders.

The Journal reports that while it’s too soon to tell if any of the letters and subpoenas will lead to legal action against the insurers, the subpoenas seek information partly under the authority of the law.

For more information, check out the coverage in the Wall Street Journal.

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