MetLife has agreed to pay $19 million to settle allegations by outgoing Attorney General Eliot Spitzer that the insurance giant paid brokers who steered clients to purchase insurance from the company.
The largest life insurer in the United States also agreed to adopt a new compensation structure that eliminates the payment of contingent commissions to brokers on life, disability, and other group products, and will provide full disclosure of broker compensation to employers at every stage of the insurance purchasing and renewal process.
Of the payments, MetLife will provide restitution of $16.5 million to policyholders and pay civil penalties totaling $2.5 million.
The settlement follows agreements between the New York attorney general and two other providers of group insurance, UnumProvident and Prudential.
Spitzer, who was sworn in as governor of New York on January 1, alleged that MetLife had instructed its sales personnel to “leverage” override agreements by informing brokers how close they were to meeting certain targets for business provided to MetLife. The targets would trigger additional compensation, Spitzer added.
MetLife was also accused of entering into particularly lucrative compensation agreements that awarded MetLife particular insurance contracts.
MetLife spokesman John Calagna told the Associated Press the company cooperated with Spitzer’s investigation and has already changed some of its business practices. “MetLife believes that resolving this matter is in the best interests of its shareholders, customers, and policyholders,” he said in a statement.