October 7, 2002
(617) 521-7333

Division Of Insurance Signs Onto $150 Million Class Action Settlement Against Met Life For Race-Based Underwriting

Baystate settlement benefits could top $4.8 million

( BOSTON, MA) Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Julie M. Bowler signed a consent order today officially joining a national class action settlement against Metropolitan Life Insurance Company for engaging in racial discrimination in the sale of certain life insurance policies throughout much of the last century.

Between the years 1901 and 1972, MetLife policies with face values of $1,000 to $5,000 were commonly sold door-to-door to African-Americans and non-Caucasians at higher premiums than those sold to Caucasian customers.

"We're pleased settlement benefits will be provided to families who were victimized by discriminatory practices and expect this will further the message that predatory sales in the insurance marketplace will never be tolerated," said Commissioner Julie M. Bowler.

The estimate of potential settlement benefits on policies sold in Massachusetts is $4,859,000. Nationally, total benefits available to policyholders, heirs and beneficiaries of deceased policyholders are estimated at over $150 million. Under the terms of the settlement, MetLife must provide settlement benefits for affected policies currently in force, policies that have been terminated due to death within the past seven years and policies that have otherwise terminated since January 1989.

The Division of Insurance is contacting the approximate 2,500 Massachusetts policyholders identified by MetLife and will assist those who think they may be eligible for settlement benefits. Claim forms may also be obtained by contacting the Division of Insurance at (617) 521-7777. MetLife will shortly be initiating a $6 million outreach effort to identify all affected policyholders, heirs and beneficiaries of deceased policyholders who may be eligible for restitution. For more information on eligibility, consumers may also contact the Settlement Administrator at (800) 960-2381 or (866) 863-9528 (TDD/TTY) or visit the website at www.lifesettle.com.