Two more life insurance companies will shell out $28 million to Californians in unpaid death and funeral benefits, under agreements announced this week by the state controller's office.
Forethought Financial Group Inc., an Indianapolis company that sells end-of-life policies through funeral homes, agreed to pay $25 million, as well as change some of its business practices. Nationwide Insurance Co. will return about $3 million in life insurance benefits. Under earlier agreements, the Columbus, Ohio-based company has already paid more than $12.5 million in unclaimed insurance monies to some 480 Californians.
These mark the fifth settlements since 2008, when California launched ongoing audits of life insurance companies and their payouts.
Some insurers failed to pay death benefits, despite access to federal records or being informed by family members that the insured had passed away, according to the audits. In some cases, the companies continued to withdraw premium payments, then cancelled the policies when the cash reserves were emptied.
"People purchase life insurance policies for a reason: They want to make sure their loved ones are taken care of after they are gone...It is deplorable that these companies refuse to pay beneficiaries by pretending they don't know the policy holder has died," said state Controller John Chiang in a statement.
Similar agreements were previously announced with insurers John Hancock, MetLife and Prudential. Since the audits began four years ago, about $108 million has been returned to beneficiaries, the controller's office said.
If you think you're a beneficiary of one of the five companies, the state's controller's website has contact information. You can also search for unclaimed life insurance and other funds through California's unclaimed property program.