Happy holidays from S2KM Limited. Thank you for reading S2KM's blog during 2007. This final 2007 S2KM blog post highlights some of this year's important structured settlement developments and issues. For additional background information, see:
Industry Growth and Development
- Industry insiders are predicting final 2007 structured settlement annuity sales (qualified and non-qualified) will match or slightly exceed total 2006 production of $6.1 billion.
- Membership growth in 2007 for the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA) and the Society of Settlement Planners (SSP), the primary structured settlement trade associations, also appears flat. Neither of these associations has articulated a strategy for growing the structured settlement industry.
- NSSTA replaced long-time Executive Director Randy Dyer in 2007 with association management company Smith Bucklin. NSSTA has announced it will continue a business relationship with Dyer. However, NSSTA has not yet announced Dyer's new role or responsibilities.
- Annuity provider Mass Mutual exited the structured settlement industry in 2007 joining other recent industry departures such as Genworth, Travelers and Aegon. No new annuity providers entered the structured settlement market in 2007.
- The secondary life and annuity markets continued to be controversial within the structured settlement industry in 2007. Semetra resigned from NSSTA in 2007 based in part on their disagreement with NSSTA's Bylaw Amendments related to structured settlement factoring. Neither NSSTA nor SSP allows factoring companies to join their associations.
- Although the secondary structured settlement market continues to grow in 2007, the overall pace of its growth appears to have leveled off for many, but not all, participants.
- Preliminary strategic recognition and some consolidation continued during 2007 within these overlapping markets:
- Structured settlements;
- Personal injury settlement planning;
- Litigation funding;
- Special needs planning;
- Secondary insurance and annuity markets.
Legislation and Regulations
- New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced a $750 million "agreement in principle" for Executive Life of New York in 2007. The agreement is designed to continue paying all ELNY annuitants 100% of their benefits. The announcement represents a public relations victory for the structured settlement industry. Many questions about the agreement, however, remain unanswered. For example: the amount of contributions from indemnity (casualty) insurers who own or have assigned structured settlement annuities.
- State Medicaid Agencies are continuing to adopt annuity provisions from the Deficit Reduction Act into their state Medicaid Plans. Interpretations and applications of these new annuity rules remain inconsistent creating process bottlenecks and denials. The impact of the secondary annuity markets on Medicaid qualification remains unclear in 2007. The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced in 2007 that it will draft POMS for annuities in 2008. For additional information about the Deficit Reduction Act, see:
- 48 states have enacted structured settlement protection statutes. Overall, these statutes appear to be accomplishing their purposes and functioning with increasing certainty and efficiency. Pennsylvania's judiciary adopted Pennsyvania Rule 229.2 in 2007 tightening some rules and processes within that state's protection statute.
- The U.S. Treasury has not ruled on single claimant 468B funds in 2007.
Case Law - some of the significant 2007 cases:
- DOJ Sovereign Immunity Defense - see "Drinker Biddle's Structured Settlement Update" for analysis of two DOJ sovereign immunity cases: Transamerica v. Settlement Capital and Continental Casualty v. United States.
- Primary Market Disclosure Case - "Pullman & Comley's Structured Settlement Insights" provided the first Internet analysis of Joseph v. The City of New York which Pullman & Comley characterizes as ""the first court opinion to analyze the requirements in structured settlement protection acts that disclosures be made when negotiating a structured settlement."
- Rapid Settlements cases challenging secondary market laws and business practices including:
- Murphy v. IRS - Eleven months after ruling that taxing damage awards for nonphysical compensatory damages violated the United States Constitution, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has reversed itself in Murphy v. IRS by holding that the United States can tax awards for emotional distress and injury to reputation.
- Macomber v. Travelers - the parties agreed to a confidential settlement in 2007. It is unclear what legal precedents, if any, the earlier Connecticut State Supreme Court rulings in this case will hold for current or future structured settlement litigation.
Educational Programs and Resources
- Both NSSTA and SSP offered certification programs in 2007.
- S2KM attended educational programs for the following trade
associations in 2007 and wrote blog posts (see links) evaluating their structured
settlement educational programs:
- National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA).
- Society of Settlement Planners (SSP)
- American Association for Justice (AAJ)
- National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA)
- Academy of Special Needs Planners (ASNP)
- National Association of Settlement Purchasers (NASP)
- The structured settlement industry continued to offer various additional educational resources in 2007:
- Blogs, podcasts, wikis and concept maps;
- Digital and hardcopy newsletters;
- Hardcopy legal textbooks.
- Blogs, podcasts, wikis and concept maps;
Business Standards and Practices
- 2007 developments
- 2007 issues:
- Structured settlement public policy
- Claim management vs. settlement planning
- Consumer and investor protection including:
- Compensation disclosure;
- Informed consent;
- Single claimant 468B funds;
- Unfair claim practice legislation;
- Fiduciary responsibilities for professional advisors.
- Additional compensation issues:
- Affinity programs
- Secondary market transactions
- Unauthorized practice of law.