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February 1, 2019

New York insurance regulator fines MetLife for pensions lapses

The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has imposed a fine of $19.75m against MetLife for failing to pay pensions to more than 13,000 people.

DFS probe revealed that the insurer failed to properly locate and pay benefits to thousands of New York insureds and beneficiaries between 1992 and 2017.

As part of the consent order, MetLife has also agreed to pay $189m to individuals in New York and elsewhere whose group annuity benefits had been lost or delayed.

Of the total $189m, the New York-based insurer has already paid $123m and will pay the remaining amount in due course.

Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo said: “Today’s action is a victory for policyholders, whose benefits were not paid due to MetLife’s failures, with the Department taking the necessary action to protect consumers.

“The restitution and other corrective actions mandated under this consent order will ensure that consumers are paid the benefits to which they are entitled and that an appropriate fine is paid and procedures put in place to prevent this from happening again.

“The Department appreciates MetLife’s cooperation in self-reporting its claims issues, resolving these matters, and committing to full restitution to all eligible beneficiaries.”

Besides the benefits that MetLife has already paid, it will set aside $63m for expected death claims or escheatment based on a Social Security Death Master File process.

It will also provide $1.85m in monthly payments to consumers as the company completes a group annuity remediation process; and $1.5m in restitution to consumers whom the insurer failed to provide with accurate comparisons of fees and expenses.

In December last year, Massachusetts’ financial regulator fined MetLife $1m for failing to make pension payments.

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