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State fines insurances companies for misconduct

Posted by: Jane Friedmann under Businesses in hot water, Buyer beware, Whistleblower Updated: June 5, 2013 - 12:31 PM

Two insurance companies were each fined $150,000 and ordered to modify their business practices last month after the state determined the companies placed beneficiaries' money into special accounts upon the death of policy holders, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce last month.

Lincoln National Life Insurance Company and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company automatically enrolled beneficiaries in "retained asset" accounts without sufficiently notifying them or getting express permission, the department alleged. Though beneficiaries could access the money in the accounts, the practice allowed companies to "hold onto large sums of life insurance proceeds," according to a department statement.

The companies must now offer beneficiaries a lump-sum payment as the default option. Four other insurance companies, Prudential, MetLife, John Hancock and ING, were each fined $200,000 recently for similar conduct.

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