An important stumbling block to the growth of the life settlement industry is the lack of consumer awareness that the option of a life settlement even exists. For a number of years, The Lifeline Program, one of the providers that we offer policies to for sale in the life settlement market, has used the well-known actress, Betty White, in its advertising. Recently, at the LISA (Life Insurance Settlement Association) Annual Spring Meeting, two of the company's chief officers addressed the conference about a change in their advertising strategy.
In order to bring greater awareness of life settlements to the general public, The Lifeline Program decided to refocus its marketing efforts with Betty White. To that end, it created a music video (to see the video click here) with Betty, "I'm Still Hot," that has gone viral on YouTube. The video has also been honored with a 2012 Communicator Award of Excellence from The International Academy of the Visual Arts.
Inevitably, someone at the meeting raised the question, "What does Betty know about life settlements?" Although 90-year-old Betty White is an iconic and beloved figure, she is an actress and not a financial planner. The speaker said he asked her that question himself and her answer was, "Isn't it nice to have options?" Interestingly, in one brief sentence, Betty shows she "gets it." Unfortunately, a number of life insurance companies and broker-dealers still don't "get it." Their restrictions on their producers could effectively deprive senior citizens of the option to sell policies that are no longer wanted or needed on the secondary market.
Betty understands that people deserve to have the same options with their life insurance policies as they would have with any other property. This is the same view espoused by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. more than 100 years ago in writing the landmark opinion in Grigsby vs. Russell:
“So far as reasonable safety permits, it is desirable to give to life policies the ordinary characteristics of property . . . To deny the right to sell . . . is to diminish appreciably the value of the contract in the owner's hands.”
Without the knowledge that the option of a life settlement exists, consumers are effectively deprived of that option. We applaud The Lifeline Program and Betty White for trying to raise consumer awareness of life settlements, as once the decision has been made to lapse or surrender a policy, “isn’t it nice to have options?”
For more from Robin S. Weinberger, CLU, ChFC, CLTC, and Peter N. Katz, J.D., CLU, ChFC, see: