Insurance companies will reform use of national death database to benefit policyholders

Aegon to use Death Master File differently

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California has settled with an insurance company regarding the company's use of the death records database held by the Social Security Administration.

The California Department of Insurance has, with other state insurance regulators, reached a settlement agreement with Aegon over the insurer’s use of the Death Master File to ensure policyholders and beneficiaries are protected.

Aegon is the parent of Transamerica Insurance Company.

The Death Master file contains records of individuals including names, birth date, payments to the SSA and date of death. Individuals and corporations can pay to have access to the data.

For many years, life insurers have used the Death Master database to search for and stop payments to annuity holders, but did not use the database to identify their own deceased life insurance policyholders whose beneficiaries are owed life insurance proceeds. 

Aegon has agreed to a number of business practice reforms.  

Aegon will start using the Death Master File database to search its records for deceased life insurance policyholders so that its beneficiaries may be paid.

"This agreement advances our nationwide effort to reform life insurance industry practices regarding the use of the Death Master database," said Commissioner Jones. "I commend Aegon for reforming its use of the database to benefit policyholders.”

It is estimated that through former practices with the Death Master file, insurers avoided paying billions of dollars in life insurance proceeds to beneficiaries and also failed to turn over unclaimed proceeds.

Aegon is the 10th largest life insurance company in the nation with over $21 billion in annual premiums.

With the Aegon agreement, 10 life insurers representing over 45 percent of the total national market have conformed or agreed to reform their business practices and use the Death Master to search for deceased policyholders and make benefit payments.

A number of other large life insurers, including life insurance giant New York Life, continue to be the subject of investigation by state insurance regulators.

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