viatical settlement

noun vi·at·i·cal settlement \ vī-ˈa-ti-kəl- \
Updated on: 13 Oct 2017

Definition of viatical settlement

:an agreement by which the owner of a life insurance policy that covers a person (such as the owner) who has a catastrophic or life-threatening illness receives compensation for less than the expected death benefit of the policy in return for a turning over (as by sale or bequest) of the death benefit or ownership of the policy to the other party (such as a company specializing in such transfers) called also viatical

Origin and Etymology of viatical settlement

probably from viaticum


Financial Definition of VIATICAL SETTLEMENT

viatical settlement

What It Is

A viatical settlement occurs when a person who is chronically or terminally ill sells his or her whole or universal life insurance policy to a third party that maintains the premium payments and receives the death benefit when the insured dies.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe has a year to live. He's decided that he has saved enough for retirement, his children are grown and out of the house, and he is comfortable with the assets he'll be leaving them when he dies. John doesn't need to leave his kids any more money, so he decides he wants to get rid of his life insurance policy so he can stop paying the premiums and so he can use the proceeds to pay his medical bills. Because he has a whole life policy, there is some cash value in the policy.

Company XYZ is a viatical settlement provider. It purchases whole and universal life insurance policies from people who no longer need or want the coverage but want to recoup their investments in the policies. The sellers receive cash to use as they wish; the buyer begins making the premium payments on the seller's behalf. In this way, Company XYZ essentially has a policy on the life of the seller.

John Doe sells his policy to Company XYZ. When he dies, Company XYZ receives the death benefits from the insurance policy.

Why It Matters

Viaticals settlements are novel but controversial. On one hand, John Doe can receive cash to fund retirement or pay medical expenses while he is still alive. On the other hand, the sooner he dies, the higher the returns are for Company XYZ (after all, Company XYZ does not have to keep paying the insurance premiums for the person). From a financial perspective, there is certainty that payments will come -- after all, everybody eventually dies. The risk, therefore, is that Company XYZ will not pass through the payments as promised or that the insurer will withhold the death benefit.

Viaticals-settlement providers tend to purchase many insurance policies and have a large portfolio of them. Because the people covered by the policies will die at different times, the provider will have a stream of cash flows (from the death benefits) coming to it over time. Additionally, the cash flows are not correlated to what is happening elsewhere in the markets.


Medical Dictionary

viatical settlement

noun viatical set·tle·ment \ -ˈset-ᵊl-mənt \

medical Definition of viatical settlement

:an agreement by which the owner of a life insurance policy that covers a person (as the owner) who has a catastrophic or life-threatening illness receives compensation for less than the expected death benefit of the policy in return for a turning over (as by sale or bequest) of the death benefit or ownership of the policy to the other party (as a company specializing in such transactions) called also viatical

Law Dictionary

viatical settlement

noun vi·at·i·cal settlement \ vī-ˈa-ti-kəl- \

legal Definition of viatical settlement

:an agreement by which the owner of a life insurance policy covering a person (as the owner) with a catastrophic or life-threatening illness receives compensation for less than the expected death benefit of the policy in return for an assignment, transfer, sale, devise, or bequest of the death benefit or ownership of the policy to the other party (as a company specializing in such transactions)

Origin and Etymology of viatical settlement

probably from Latin viaticum provision for a journey


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