Do insurance agents have a responsibility to discuss the life settlement option with clients?Blog added by Erez Rotem on June 13, 2014
Erez Rotem - Goldenbridge

Erez Rotem

Summit, NJ

Joined: November 19, 2012

What is an agent's responsibility to his client? According to this chapter from "Understanding Insurance Law for the Life and Health Insurance License Exam," a fiduciary, by definition, is:
    a person in a position of financial trust. Thus, attorneys, accountants, trust officers, and insurance agents are all considered fiduciaries. As a fiduciary, the agent has an obligation to act in the best interest of the insured.

    The agent must be knowledgeable about the features and provisions of various insurance policies and the use of these insurance contracts. The agent must be able to explain the important features of these policies to the insured. The agent must recognize the importance of dealing with the general public's financial needs and problems and offer solutions to these problems through the purchase of insurance products.
From this description it sounds like insurance agents have a fiduciary responsibility to explore the life settlement option for their clients. So why aren't more agents discussing life settlements? Why aren't agents mandated by law to explore the life settlement option for anyone lapsing their policy or anyone who has the ability to convert their life insurance policy but chooses not to? Isn't a life settlement in the best interest of these clients? Isn't it better for the clients to recover some of the money they've poured in as premiums over the years than to get nothing at all?

See also: 10 reasons to expect a boom in life settlements in 2014

At least one state will look at this in the near future. Here is a blurb from the Life Insurance Settlement Association:

California couple sues Lincoln National: The court battle continues on in California, where a couple has filed a lawsuit against Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., alleging that had their insurance agent told them about the life settlement option they may not have reduced coverage on their policy, of which the premiums were becoming too expensive. One of the key arguments in the case is whether or not agents have a fiduciary duty to their client — of which Lincoln National believes they do not. While California law does not require consumers be told about alternatives to the lapse or surrender of a policy (something LISA has advocated for), this case further illustrates the need for states to consider such legislation that would allow consumers to be told about all of the options available to them when considering lapse or surrender of their life insurance policy.
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