* Calif. regulators seek review of MetLife death payouts
* Follows recent settlement with John Hancock
* MetLife will fully cooperate-spokesman
(Adds MetLife comment, background)
SAN FRANCISCO, April 25 California regulators
subpoenaed MetLife Inc (MET.N) and plan a hearing on the
company's practices involving the payment of benefits after
learning of an insured's death.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and State Controller John
Chiang on Monday said they are responding to audit findings
indicating that MetLife failed to pay life insurance policy
benefits even after learning that an insured had died.
The subpoena comes after Chiang announced a settlement with
insurer John Hancock Life Insurance Co last week involving
MetLife spokesman John Calagna said the company would fully
cooperate with regulators.
"MetLife's first priority is to keep its promises to its
policyholders," Calagna said, adding that the company made
payments in excess of $11 billion to beneficiaries in 2010.
MetLife has an estimated $1.2 billion worth of so-called
Industrial Policies, sold to working-class people in the 1940s
and 1950s, the regulators said.
The audit indicates that Metlife did not take steps to
determine whether policy owners of dormant accounts are still
alive, and if not, pay the beneficiaries -- or the state if
they cannot be located, the regulators said.
"The thrust of this hearing is to determine whether
MetLife, one of the largest life insurers and issuers of
annuities in the United States, engaged in unfair practices
regarding the payment of life insurance claims to
beneficiaries," Jones said in a statement.
Calagna said MetLife has been proactive in identifying
policy owners, establishing a master database in recent years.
In its settlement, John Hancock agreed to restore the full
value of more than 6,400 impacted accounts dating back to 1992,
and to better identify deceased policy holders, among other
The MetLife hearing is scheduled for May 23 in Sacramento,
(Reporting by Dan Levine; editing by Carol Bishopric)