"Life Settlements are transforming the way that the financial planning industry views life insurance. A once dormant future benefit is now recognized as a liquid asset with a present-day value."
John Welcom, Insurance Marketing Magazine, 2002
A Life Settlement is defined as the sale of an existing life insurance policy by the policy owner to a third party. The policy owner will receive a lump sum cash settlement as opposed to accepting the cash surrender value, if any, offered by the insurance carrier. The settlement proceeds generated from the policy owner selling the life insurance policy are generally greater than the policy's cash surrender value.
Life Settlements are based on the premise that many individuals no longer want, need or can afford to keep paying premiums on their life insurance polices. A policy owner may be the insured, a company, family member, trust, or charity. Through the use of a Life Settlement, a policy owner can liquidate an existing policy, thus obtaining a fair market value in the secondary market.
A Life Settlement focuses on policies insuring older individuals with life expectancies generally ranging between two to twenty years and creates liquidity from a non-performing asset, allowing policy owners to cash out, at competitive market rates, of unwanted, unaffordable or obsolete life insurance policies.
Often, insureds/policy owners seek a Life Settlement because of a variety of factors, including:
- escalating costs of health and assisted living care
- rising property taxes and other cost-related issues
- a new life insurance policy may have more desirable features or benefits
- premiums are no longer affordable
- primary purpose of policy no longer exists
In exchange for a settlement, the institution purchasing the policy becomes the owner/beneficiary of the policy and receives the death benefit while assuming responsibility for all future premiums.