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January 12 2006

Oxendine donates over $111,000 to Operation HOPE

Contribution will support “Banking on Our Future” Financial Literacy Program for
Atlanta Area School Youth 
(Atlanta) – January 12, 2006. Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine announced today that he will distribute $111,487 in proceeds from an insurance company settlement to the non-profit organization Operation HOPE, Inc. a national provider of financial literacy and economic empowerment programs. The check was accepted by Operation HOPE National spokesman, Ambassador Andrew Young.
The proceeds were money left unclaimed from Georgia’s portion of a multi-state settlement involving Monumental Life Insurance Company’s alleged race-based premium rating, specifically unfairly discriminatory pricing of industrial life policies.  
“These funds are not part of a fine or administrative penalty, so they should not be placed in the State treasury,” Oxendine said.  “We decided they should go to help people who were harmed by the sort of economic inequity that led to the order in the first place.”  
Commissioner Oxendine and Operation HOPE reached an agreement in December 2005 that will allow the money to be used to further advance Operation HOPE’s “Banking on Our Future” program in Georgia.
“Oxendine is to be commended for finding a way to right a wrong,” said Operation HOPE Founder and CEO John Bryant. “Many youths will benefit from his foresight and vision.”
Banking on Our Future is a financial literacy initiative established in 1996 to teach youth ages 9-18 the basics of managing their financial futures.  Using a growing network of 1,500 trained volunteer Banker-Teachers, Banking on Our Future has taught the basics of banking, how to open and maintain a checking and savings account, the power of credit, and basic investments, to more than 170,000 students nationwide to date. “Banking on Our Future” was implemented in the Atlanta City School system in November 2004. Since then over 1,300 area school students have graduated from the program. 
Monumental Life paid approximately $677,000 in compensation to 5,980 potential Georgia policyholders as a result of the multi-state consent order.  After reaching as many of these individuals as possible, the company reported that $111,487 remained unclaimed.  Under the terms of the consent order, any funds remaining after a one-year period would be distributed to the state’s insurance regulatory authority.
According to the consent order, the company historically charged African-Americans higher premiums than whites for similar or identical life insurance coverage.  Those affected by the settlement included non-white policyholders or their beneficiaries who purchased certain life policies sold by many of the companies that are part of Monumental.
A popular insurance product in the 1960s, industrial life policies were primarily marketed to low-income individuals who purchased them to cover funeral expenses in the event of their death.  When the practice started four decades ago, insurance companies charged African-Americans higher premiums than whites, based on mortality tables that showed their life expectancies were shorter.