I had a really interesting experience on Oct. 4 in Atlanta.

I was co-moderator of a roundtable that brought together top executives from 11 life settlement companies. The other co-moderator was Ramiro Rencurrell, who is president of the Life Insurance Settlement Association.

This event was organized by National Underwriter Life & Health and content from the roundtable will be featured in a special supplement we are publishing with the Oct. 30 issue. So I am not going to get into specifics about who said what at the discussion. You’ll just have to wait until that supplement comes out.

But I would like to share some of my impressions from the roundtable since they probably won’t find a place in that supplement.

First off I should say that it was a very impressive group that came together at the Buckhead Club. The participants were (in no particular order): Bryan Freeman of Habersham Funding; Scott Page, The Lifeline Program; Ted Kilkuskie, Coventry; Craig Seitel, Abacus Settlements; Steve Washington, Life Equity; Larry Simon, Life Settlement Solutions; Rob Haynie, Life Insurance Settlements; Jim Cavoli, Life Settlements Insights; Dan Bockhorn, Trinity Financial Services; Brent Bush, Magna; and, last but not least, Nate Evans, MapleLife Financial.

From the whole tone and tenor of the conversation, it was obvious that these men and their companies were all very committed to their business.

All of them also have an intense belief in the ultimate value to consumers of life settlements and a sense that this is just the beginning for what is still quite a young business. They’re also in it for the long haul.

A while back I wrote this about the life settlement business:

“It is no exaggeration to say that the emergence of life settlements is a transformational event in the life insurance business. Although still in its relative infancy, the secondary market for life insurance policies has the capacity to create powerful changes in how the product is bought and sold, underwritten and marketed.”

If anything, after yesterday’s roundtable discussion I came away with a sense that those words are truer now than when I wrote them. Use whatever metaphor you want, but the tide has turned irresistibly and the life insurance industry (companies and agents alike) had better wake up to the fact.

That life settlements have appeal to consumers seems undeniable. People can argue over whether certain deals may have been good or bad, but on the whole it seems hard to justify an argument that says consumers should not have the right to do what they want with their policies.

Proof of what the future might look like for the life settlement business is just starting with an inflow of institutional money. Once this turns into a flood, which it undoubtedly will, there will be no turning back.

The life insurance industry would do well to begin thinking now about how it might profit from working with the life settlement business. That way the industry could get out of the seemingly anti-consumer box it has painted itself into.

Obviously, safeguards need to be put in place to make sure that speculators cannot abuse the situation. But from the talk yesterday it became clear that these life settlement firms are as anti-speculation as the carriers themselves.

The handwriting is on the wall, folks, and you don’t need the Rosetta Stone to decipher it.

Steve Piontek

Editor-in-Chief