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Life Health > Life Insurance > Life Settlements

(Grim) reaping the benefits of life settlements?

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An article hit the wires today – aimed at the insurance industry – that carried the combustible fragrance of a Molotov cocktail.

Originally appearing in “The Big Money” section of Slate and penned by Benjamin Popper, a self-proclaimed “writer and dancer based in New York,” the diatribe points an angry, gnarled finger at the life settlements industry, calling it “grim reaping.”

As Popper proclaims: “It’s no surprise that in recent years the market for investing in life settlements–buying a stake in someone else’s insurance and collecting the reward when they die–has grown tenfold to nearly $20 billion. Life settlements can offer legitimate value to investors and policyholders, but the industry remains largely unregulated. And just like the overcooked mortgage securities market, they’ve launched a flood of fraudulent policies–this time on people’s lives.”

And that was all in the first paragraph. There are roughly another 1,500 words to go and Popper’s barely getting worked into a lather at this point. Click here for the full story.

Though heavy-handed at times, I’m not saying Popper doesn’t make any good points, particularly when looking at the regulatory side of life settlements, where he quotes Doug Head, president of the Life Settlement Association.

“There is an element in our industry that doesn’t want to see any regulation,” says Head. “The players that deal with institutional investors want to see more regulation, but not everybody does business that way.”

Popper claims that although there are many in and outside of the industry pushing for reform, he writes that many of those dealing in life settlements “remain from the Wild West days.”

Since you’re on the front line, I want to know what you think about this article and the product. Is Popper taking potshots as we saw on the Dateline piece last year? Or would you like to see some serious overhauls take place with life settlements?

Use the form below and let us hear what you think.


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