The word ‘viatical’ originates from the word ‘viaticum’ which was part of the last rites performed on a dying Catholic in order to prepare him for his destiny. History shows us that its early beginnings can also be found in Greece.
Viatical settlements are offered by dozens of companies around the world. Why? To aid senior citizens (viators) in their poor financial situation. Viatical settlements provide a way out of crisis scenarios by giving terminally or chronically ill patients the option of selling their life insurance policy for a premium amount. Naturally, the higher the bid, the more profit you make. Although this form of instant cash has a sad tone, it has been highly beneficial to people who have high medical bills and other critical emergencies. If your policy is a Term, Universal Life, Whole Life, Joint/Survivor or a Group contract, then the good news is that you are eligible for a viatical quote.
The person who buys the policy is called an investor. An investor can be the final third party who is interested in the policy or a viatical company that holds it as an investment. If it is a company that is buying the policy they can resell it at a profit. When buying a life policy of another person you to have complete knowledge of the viator’s medical history. You can either buy the whole policy or a part of it. Usually a policy will state the life expectancy of the individual because the quote will depend on how long the seller is expected to live. Once you buy the policy, you gain if the seller dies before the expectancy date but your return will be lower if he lives longer. In some cases you might loose a little form your principal amount if the seller lives a long life!
Due to this risk factor, viatical settlements and quotes need to be regularized and controlled. Thus, the State Insurance Commission gives out licenses to selected companies who are capable of handling this intricate business. However, in some US states the viatical industry is not regulated at all. Companies often buy the policies and then offer it to prospective buyers at higher rates. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners and Federal Trade Commission are two legal bodies that offer information with regard to viatical quotes and settlements.
If you are a Viator, then you have two choices. Either to can sell your life insurance policy directly to another person or you can use the services of a broker. Viators generally hire a broker because they know the market and can negotiate for a better viatical quote. The quote depends of many variables such as the state, age and medical condition of the viator. Prior to suggesting a bid, the investor, broker and viator will meet to highlight details of the case. The investor will want to know the medical prognosis so he can offer a more realistic quote. Once the quote has been offered and the bid accepted, the life insurance policy is transferred to the new holder. This completes the process and the viator is given a lump sum payment.
In conclusion, viatical quotes will differ from state to state and can be settled upon only after reviewing all the factors involved in the case. The viator and the investor have to come to an agreement is which mutually beneficial. While being a perfect avenue for the viator, he should also be wise to make sure the sale is worth his while.
About the Author: Robert co-founded Insurance4USA.com, an insurance quote shopping service, in 1999. He has been a licensed insurance agent in New York State since 1990.