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Life Health > Life Insurance

Viatical Model Screeches To A Halt

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An amended model act designed to curb stranger-owned life insurance was pulled back from full adoption by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners during its spring meeting here.

Changes to the Viatical Settlement Model Act were ready to be considered by the NAIC’s executive and plenary session. But North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman said the model would be held back so amendments could be added that would ensure it did not violate the National Bank Act and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Those amendments are being added to a bill currently in the North Dakota legislature and will be added to the model act, he said. Poolman had spearheaded changes to the existing model to address STOLI.

Commissioners expressed support for the model and its intent to protect consumers from life insurance policies that did not have insurable interest at the heart of the sale. It was urged that changes to the model be narrow in scope.

In comments before the executive and plenary, Poolman said he hoped the model could be brought back to them during the June summer meeting and adopted. He quipped that the extra time “would give everyone a little more time to lobby.”

Iowa Commissioner Susan Voss said: “I am very disappointed with some of the lobbying taking place. I hope in the future, we can keep discussions at a professional level.”

The current draft of the amended model is opposed by the life settlement and premium finance industries. There has been heavy lobbying by both these interests and the interests of life insurers at the state level. Most recently, all interests have lobbied both the Connecticut and North Dakota legislatures. During a March 6 hearing, Frank Keating, president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, urged North Dakota legislators in the House to adopt a bill that resembles the current NAIC draft.

Reflecting the questions being raised to legislators, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, Troy, N.Y., is embarking on efforts to develop its own model. The efforts follow numerous questions ranging from property rights to the inclusion of settled contracts in trusts. These questions were raised during NCOIL’s spring meeting.

Michael McRaith, Illinois insurance director, said he was not sure why the bank amendments were not addressed during the executive and plenary session. “This is a very serious consumer issue and we need to deal with this promptly. This is not an efficient way, in my opinion, to operate.”

During the Life and Annuities “A” committee session that immediately followed, Kentucky Director Julie McPeak, chair, said she would like to see the model discussed during a full-day meeting and changes made so that it could be taken up by the executive and plenary in June. In response to a question from Iowa’s Voss, McPeak said she was “interested in keeping the amendments to a minimum” but would consider “constructive, substantive amendments” in addition to the bank amendments. She expressed confidence that she “has not seen any additional amendments that make more sense” than the language in the current draft.

All sides said Poolman’s announcement took them by surprise. Life settlement and life premium finance representatives called it “the right thing to do.” These industries have been calling for more discussion on the issue and remedies that they say specifically address STOLI.

Michael Lovendusky, a representative with the American Council of Life Insurers, said the ACLI supports the current draft, calling it “a sophisticated response to a number of complex problems.” He said the ACLI does not anticipate asking for additional amendments to address other problems in the secondary market. While there are “clearly other issues to address, the idea of a single silver bullet to address problems is simple-minded.”


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