News Column

Nationwide to Pay $7.2 Million to 7 States

Oct. 12, 2012

Tim Feran

Nationwide has reached an agreement with Ohio and six other states over hundreds of millions of dollars in unclaimed death benefits.

In response to a joint investigation undertaken by Ohio, Florida, California, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Pennsylvania, Nationwide has identified 4,747 unclaimed death benefits and has paid $144.1 million to beneficiaries.

The agreement also requires payment of $7.2 million to the states. The exact amount of money that will be received by each state has yet to be determined.

Nationwide has denied any wrongdoing and has been "fully cooperating in this process," Nationwide spokesman Mike Switzer said.

"Although not required by law, we proactively use a variety of resources, including the Social Security death master file and other online tools, to help us find beneficiaries in all 50 states," Switzer said.

Nationwide is the fourth company that has reached an agreement over policies that go unclaimed, joining MetLife, Prudential and John Hancock.

The multistate investigation of the largest national insurance companies began in early 2011 after allegations arose that some insurers were holding back on life-insurance payouts despite knowing that policyholders had died.

Life-insurance claims normally are filed by beneficiaries, but in a small percentage of cases, the insured's family is unaware of a policy and fails to make a claim.

The agreement requires Nationwide to implement a process to pay the beneficiaries or the state's unclaimed property division when the company identifies an insured person has died. That process includes periodically comparing the Social Security information with company records of life-insurance policies.

State officials praised Nationwide's work with the states in reaching the agreement.

"I appreciate Nationwide's cooperation and strong partnership with state regulators in order to protect consumers," said Mary Taylor, lieutenant governor and



Source: (c)2012 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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