What Is a Life Settlement?
In the past, if you owned a life insurance policy that you no longer wanted or needed, you generally had two choices: surrender the policy for its cash value or allow it to lapse. Life settlements present a third option: selling your policy (or the right to receive the death benefit) to an entity other than the insurance company that issued the policy. That transaction is known as a life settlement. The life settlement market emerged as an offshoot of the viatical settlement industry that developed in the 1980s as a source of liquidity for AIDS patients and other terminally ill policyholders with life expectancies of less than two years. Unlike viaticals, however, life settlements involve policyholders who are not terminally ill, but generally have a life expectancy of between two and ten years. Life settlements also tend to involve policies with higher net death benefits than viaticals.
How Do Life Settlements Work?
The purchasers of life settlements, sometimes called life settlement companies or life settlement providers, generally are institutions that either hold the policies to maturity and collect the net death benefits or resell policies—or sell interests in multiple, bundled policies—to hedge funds or other investors. In exchange, you receive a lump sum payment. The amount you will receive in the secondary market depends on a range of factors, including your age, health and the terms and conditions of your policy—but it is generally more than the policy’s cash surrender value and less than the net death benefit. When you sell your life insurance policy, whoever buys it is acquiring a financial interest in your death. In addition to paying you a lump sum for your policy, the buyer agrees to pay any additional premiums that might be required to support the cost of the policy for as long as you live. In exchange, the buyer will receive the death benefit when you die.
Factors to Consider When Deciding to Sell Your Life Insurance Policy
Life settlements have proven profitable not only for institutional investors that purchase policies, but also for the providers and brokers who handle these transactions. As a result, competition among life settlements providers for individuals seeking to sell or otherwise terminate their life insurance policies has become increasingly intense. Because the life settlement industry is relatively new and may target seniors who may be in poor health, it can be prone to aggressive sales tactics and abuse. That does not mean that you should never consider a life settlement. A life settlement might make sense for you if you no longer want or need your current policy—or if you can no longer afford the expense of paying insurance premiums and are willing to give up or replace the coverage. Even then, however, you should proceed with caution. Here are some of the key factors you should consider: – See more at: http://www.finra.org/investors/alerts/seniors-beware-what-you-should-know-about-life-settlements#sthash.wfCA55o9.dpuf