The American Council of Life Insurers, calling the secondary market for insurance products dangerous in another salvo at life settlement companies, appealed to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a letter today that the securitization of life settlements should be prohibited but also wants federal law amended to include viatical and life settlements as securities.
However, ACLI agrees with the SEC recommendation that that life settlements themselves be excluded from the definition of “security” for purposes of Securities Investor Protection Act (SIPA) coverage.
“As documented by the SEC Task Force and as evidenced by the persistent reports by officials and media of abusive investment schemes involving life settlements, the secondary market for insurance products is dangerous,” the ACLI stated in its letter. An exclusion of life settlements for purposes of SIPA coverage “warns investors of the relatively greater risks of the investment class,” and eliminates “the misuse of SIPA coverage as a marketing tool for settlement investment promoters attempting to assuage investor concerns,” it claimed.
ACLI supports a prohibition on securitization because the practice exposes senior citizens and investors to increased risk of fraud, it alleged. Moreover, the ACLI is concerned securitization of life settlements will increase occurrences of stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI) transactions. But that may be tossing out the baby wth the bathwater.
Life settlements paid policyowners $5.62 billion more than they would have received from insurers in a surrender of the policy in just four years, from 2006-2009, according to the Government Accountability Office report issued in conjunction with the SEC report, the life settlement industry pointed out.
STOLI transactions have been outlawed in 28 states and other states are considering anti-STOLI legislation. Seniors caught up in STOLI schemes face potential legal and tax liability.
The life settlement industry fired back at the primary life industry’s tactics.
“This is just another effort by the carriers to deflect attention from their sustained efforts to deny death benefits and annuity benefits to widows and orphans that is estimated to exceed one billion dollars, through nonpayment of claims to beneficiaries and the use of retained asset accounts,” Michael Freedman, senior vice president of government affairs for Coventry, the Fort Washington, Pa.-based life settlement company.
”The ACLI’s own press release says it all: ‘Securitization is a very effective means of market-making and encouraging rapid expansion of a ‘product’, in this case, life settlement contracts.’ The life industry acknowledges that securitization grow markets and they have a vested interest in attacking the expansion of secondary market for life insurance,” Freedman told National Underwriter.