The life settlement business has been set back by the recession, but a number of factors are pointing to growth opportunities, according to settlement brokers speaking on at panel at the recent Life Settlement Summit in Miami.
More educated buyers and more realistic life expectancies are helping to create a demand for “quality paper,” said Mike Liebowitz, president and chief executive officer, Invescor Ltd., Farmington Hills, Mich. In addition, projected returns on settlement investments “are starting to be more realistic,” he said. “Buyers are coming back.”
Russel Dorsett, co-managing director of Select Life Corporation and director, Veris Settlement Partners, Rockville, Md., said the market “is coming back into balance. In 2009, there was a lot of paper and not enough buyers. Now we are rejecting three of five policies, so that’s improving.”
Rob Haynie, managing director, Life Insurance Settlements Inc. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., agreed there has been a recent rise in interest among buyers.
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“There is more competitive bidding now than 12 months ago,” he said. “Capital is coming back now.”
But capital is looking for improved life expectancy projections, he said.
Jon B. Mendelsohn, president and chief executive officer, Ashar Group L.L.C., Orlando, Fla., says the settlement industry has helped consumers generate $1 billion from their life policies.
“We have a tremendous amount of legitimate inventories,” said Mendelsohn.
Members of the panel felt that increasing regulation of the life settlement industry by the states has been largely good for the industry.
Liebowitz said that 41 states, with 85% to 90% of the nation’s population, have regulations covering life settlements. This has helped stabilize the industry, he said.
“The fact that regulation is pervasive is a good thing all around,” Dorsett agreed. “Providers that don’t play by the rules are finding fewer places to play at all. We providers have to educate consumers and producers.”
In heavily regulated states, such as Virginia and Vermont, there is virtually no settlement activity, noted Dorsett.