Regulators Probe 'Inherently Deceptive' Insurance Marketing

In three states, regulators have started or widened investigations into insurers after a judge described MetLIfe Inc's (MET) marketing of asset accounts as "inherently deceptive."

On Sept. 10, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks in Reno, Nevada said that MetLife gave customers the misimpression that its Total Control Account Money Market Option account for death benefits was protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Bloomberg News said.

"An ordinary reasonable person, provided with the contracts at issue, would be under the impression that they were receiving either a money-market account or an account associated with money market protections," Hicks wrote.

Still, Hicks dismissed a case that claimed the insurer had profited unfairly from the policy.

Now, regulators in California will look into the accounts, while authorities in New York and Nevada will widen their investigations.

MetLife spokesman John Calagna said the company is cooperating with pending investigations, and that the ruling dismissing the case was in the firm's favor.

"Insurers have prevailed in almost all of these lawsuits," Calagna told Bloomberg News. "There's a message there -- that these accounts provide a benefit."

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