Ripped From the Headlines: Life Insurance Rate Hikes Send Seniors (and Advisors) to the Life Insurance Secondary Market
This isn’t some new Law and Order series, unfortunately. This is real life.
Over the past year, at least seven big life insurance companies have raised premiums on a range of Universal Life Insurance policies, many of them targeting increases on seniors. From this, the headlines have ensued:
Retirees Stung by Universal Life Costs – The Wall Street Journal (August 10, 2015)
Surprise: Your Life-Insurance Rates are Going Up – The Wall Street Journal (December 4, 2015)
Life Insurers Pass Pain of Low Rates on to Consumers – The Wall Street Journal (March 20, 2016)
Rising Premiums for Universal Life Insurance Draw Scrutiny – The New York Times (May 20, 2016)
Why Some Life Insurance Premiums are Skyrocketing – The New York Times (August 13, 2016)
The news stories provide some compelling – heartbreaking, even – “ripped from the headlines” stories:
- A retired social worker had been paying $700 a year for his Universal Life policy ever since the 1980s. Last year, he received notice that his premium had risen to $6,000 a year. Unable to pay the new rate, he canceled the policy and took a job to supplement his income—at 71 years old.
- When a retired couple’s life insurance bill nearly doubled, they were forced to drop their policy, simply walking away from a policy on which they’d paid $55,000 in premiums over the past 25 years. The return on their investment: the $4,100 in cash that remained in the account.
- A couple, ages 62 and 57, who are both still working, just saw a 40 percent rise in their premiums. They are now cutting back on spending and expecting to work longer to achieve their retirement goals. “You think you’re doing the right thing, and it goes up in smoke,” they said.
“It does not take much imagination to imagine that millions of UL policyholders will be adversely affected if insurers are free to raise rates,” according to James H. Hunt of the Consumer Federation of America, which has called on state regulators to investigate these questionable rate increases. One policyholder decried that insurers should “bite the bullet” because they have historically profited with other people’s money, arguing that carriers should “tighten their belt” rather than seek more revenue and returns from existing policyowners.
Can you, as an advisor, relate these stories to your client’s own experience? Are your clients faced with the lapse or surrender of their policies? And, more importantly, if it was any other asset and your client was considering terminating it, what would you do?
Seniors – and their Advisors – Have Better Options
A better option to being forced out a life insurance policy is to sell the policy. In all instances – as a matter of law – buyers have to pay more than the cash surrender value. But, in fact, seniors selling their policies generally receive 4 to 10 times more than the policy’s cash surrender value.
By selling the policy, the policyholder can receive the full and fair market value of the policy—often as much as $100,000 or more on a $500,000 policy—and use the return to help manage increasing expenses or reinvest it to generate future income. Even if some level of coverage is still desired, the policyholder can opt for a Retained Benefit Settlement that allows a portion of the benefits to be retained—without having to pay additional premiums. (For more on Retained Benefit Settlements, see Here comes the sun: When Retained Benefit Settlements save the day.)
Sound too good to be true? Any client facing a multi-thousand dollar insurance rate hike may think so. But life settlements are very real, very valuable, and very safe.
Further, as I’ve discussed previously, life settlements are one of the most highly regulated financial services transactions in the US today. And, for the past four years, the only consumer complaints stemming from these transactions have been filed against insurance carriers who have attempted to stop the settlements from taking place. (For more on what makes Life Settlements one of the most secure senior financial services available today, see Myth Busters: Top 3 Reasons to Recommend Life Settlements.)
The secondary life insurance market can help you generate good news.
Imagine these headlines: “My financial advisor helped me achieve my retirement dreams.” Or, “Advisor saves a client’s policy from the insurance company’s trash pile: Delivers triple digit returns on the sale of a life policy.” Equally as powerful, you may receive a heartfelt “thank you” from your client.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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