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"The Department is both pleased and gratified that a settlement has been reached to compensate policyholders of MetLife that were in the past treated differently because of their race. Although the insidious practice of race-based underwriting can never truly be remedied, approximately 1.8 million policies are likely to receive benefits in the form of cash payments, increased policy death benefits or special settlement death benefits.

The Department conducted a thorough and far-reaching examination with the assistance of legal and actuarial consultants. The Department focused their efforts on achieving the ultimate goal of reparations for all those affected by race-based underwriting guidelines. We insisted that relief reach back to 1901, and fully compensate those who paid more because of race-based underwriting. We also insisted that MetLife pay interest with respect to certain policies that have matured or terminated, and that MetLife provide relief automatically to the extent possible.

The Department is also actively involved in and continues to pursue other investigations involving additional New York licensees."



  • The total settlement benefits value is estimated to be as high as $140 million to $160 million.
  • The settlement involves all policyholders and certain beneficiaries of certain policies that insured non-Caucasians: industrial insurance policies issued from 1901-1964 with face amounts of less than $1,000; ordinary policies issued from 1901-1972 with less-than-standard risk classifications; and, Metropolitan Series policies issued from 1960-1972 with face amounts between $4,500 and $5,000.
  • MetLife is required to provide settlement benefits automatically to all those whose policies currently are in force, those whose policies have terminated by death within the past seven years, and those whose policies have otherwise terminated since January 1989. With respect to affected in force policies, MetLife will, upon death, endowment or surrender, review each insured’s death certificate and/or application file to the extent necessary to determine the race of the insured and will provide benefits automatically to those affected by the settlement.
  • MetLife will be initiating a $6 million outreach initiative including mail, radio, tv and print outlets to notify all affected parties.
  • For more information on the settlement, please call 1-800-960-2381 or 1-866-863-9528 (TDD/TTY) or visit
  • The settlement has received preliminary approval from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and must receive final approval by the court before it can be implemented.
  • In June of 2000 the Department announced an investigation into allegations of race-based underwriting of life insurance by it licensees and issued Circular Letter 19 (2000) detailing a reporting procedure. Different premium rates, compensation rates, risk classifications and unequal treatment with regard to dividends, benefits of other policy terms or conditions, based solely on race all evidence race-based underwriting.


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