Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Life insurance explainer: What are life settlements?

Life settlements are when you sell your life insurance policy to someone else. You get immediate cash, and they collect the value of the policy when you die.

There's a similar type of transaction, known as a viatical settlement, in which a terminally ill person sells his or her life insurance to someone else.

Both these types of transactions are mentioned as options in a notice that life insurers are required to send to some Washington policyholders.

According to a New York Times article published last month, the fast-growing life settlements business swelled to $12 billion in transactions by 2007, but has dropped off dramatically, with only $3.8 billion worth of policies changing hands in 2010. Life settlements brokers maintain, however, that with trillions of dollars in life insurance out there, the industry is still in its infancy.

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