Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What do Ralph Hudgens and Mary Squires have in Common? Dead Peasants

Can you say Viatical?

Sure you can.

One thing about running for the Office of Commissioner of Insurance is that you constantly run into stuff you never heard of before. That is the arcane nature of the world of Insurance companies and policies and the financial whiz kids that search 24/7 for new ways to separate people from their money.

Hence the phrase of the day "Viatical" which is also known as "Life Settlement". It's a relatively new venture in InsuranceLand dating back to the early 1990's when the first enterprising operators began buying life insurance policies from terminally ill patients and then cashed the policy in when the seller died.  

The supposed benefit was that the Viatical/Life settlement market offered a better number than the "Cash Surrender" value to the policy holder and I'll grant that $15 dollars beats $8 dollars but that stinks when the policy is worth $100. Or $200,000. Or 2.5 Million. The whole market is predicated on the concept that terminally ill people need cash now and will cheerfully accept a fraction of the Insurance policy's value as they attempt to deal with being at deaths door.

So it seems to me that the newly flourishing Viatical/Life settlement industry is an extension of the Dead Peasant concept. And my opponents are knee deep in this stuff and yet I've heard nary a peep on the issue out of either of them. I guess it's insurance bidness as usual.

Ralph is featured in an article over at Life Settlement Pro that gets gushy about his role as the chair of NCOIL (National Conference of Insurance Legislators) in pushing for model legislation that would require Life Insurance company's to inform their policy holders that the Viatical/Life Settlement industry exists. It also appears that the Life Insurance industry is not so keen on being forced to tell their nearly dead clients that they can get a few more pennies on the dollar from a competitor. I imagine that most of them are hoping the policy will lapse prior to the policy holders demise and they'll get off scott free. According to the GAO report on this subject, that does happen and so do a lot of other things.

Mary was mentioned as a guest speaker at this years Life Insurance Settlement Association (LISA) Conference right here in Atlanta on 2 SEPT 10. Didn't see any mentions of that on her website, of course it hasn't been updated since mid June anyway. I have no idea if she's pro-Viatical or con-Viatical and can't wait to find out.

Bottom line is that this is a 9 to 12 Billion Dollar a year industry nationwide. That's a lot of swag and it's obviously dependent on the regulatory environment in which it operates. I've told you what I found out during an evening websearch on the topic. It'll take a little longer to formulate a campaign position on this stuff.

Next Topic: Uninsured Motorists, the scourge of Georgia.

1 comment:

  1. I am not a resident of Georgia but I do represent consumers who deal with the viatical and life settlements industry. That is the reason I believe Hudgens would be a poor choice for insurance commissioner. For details, see the article that describes Hudgens' temper tantrum at the NCOIL conference call, when I tried to inform him that a statute that is not enforced does not protect the public. Go to www.opednews.com .