The Academy of Special Needs Planners' (ASNP) 12-part "Settlement Planning" webinar series , which begins today, offers an important educational opportunity to learn more about this evolving profession. Evaluated in advance, based upon its online descriptive materials:
- The strengths of this webinar series appear to be the quality of the presenters and the broad scope of topics to be addressed.
- The primary omission and challenges appear to be:
- Not including a life care planner presenter to explain the critical role life care plans play in settlement planning "needs analysis".
- Addressing and defining: 1) settlement planning market metrics; and 2) how various settlement planning professionals integrate their work product - and at what individual and overall cost.
Despite multiple professional associations, participants and conferences, as well as legislative and regulatory developments, personal injury settlement planning (settlement planning) remains an evolving concept and market with competing definitions, standards and business models and many unanswered questions.
Settlement planning has been defined as both a process and a profession - and also represents a largely undefined market.
Kevin Urbatsch, ASNP's National Director and introductory webinar presenter, defines settlement planning as "the process of ensuring that a plaintiff who has a significant disability, lacks capacity, or has a complex financial situation will receive his or her litigation proceeds in such a way that it fully enhances his or her quality of life."
Joseph Tombs, Director of the Society of Settlement Planners (SSP) Registered Settlement Planner (RSP) certification program, has defined settlement planning as "a profession helping recipients of settlement proceeds use those proceeds to achieve post-loss goals and transition successfully to post-settlement financial life."
With the exception of the structured settlement market (which generated an estimated annuity premium of $5.1 billion in 2013 and $139 billion from 1975-2013), the size of the United States settlement planning market and its various component markets has not yet been defined. Based upon industry sources, S2KM estimates the 2013 structured settlement secondary market resulted in 12,800 transfers (factoring transactions) and generated $385 million PV of secondary market purchases.
S2KM estimates more than $170 billion of annual United States tort costs represents payments to personal injury victims and their attorneys based upon Towers Watson's most recently published "Annual Studies of United States Tort Costs", and utilizing Towers Watson's 2002 "best estimate" formula for calculating payout percentages. Towers Watson's tort cost studies historically exclude property losses, workers' compensation payouts and no-fault claims.
Founded in 2000, SSP has published "Standards of Professional Conduct for Settlement Planners" and sponsors an annual educational conference as well as a settlement planning certification program. To S2KM's knowledge, however, neither SSP nor any other professional association has addressed, in a comprehensive manner, basic questions about "settlement plans" (see below) - presumably the most fundamental and important settlement planning work product.
Especially because of inadequate information about the settlement planning market and collaborative work product, ASNP's webinar represents a valuable opportunity to advance industry knowledge and better define settlement planning as a strategic and evolving process, profession and market.
Related questions S2KM hopes one or more of the ASNP webinar presenters (or subsequent settlement planning conferences) will address:
- Who comprises (and selects) the settlement planning team?
- What criteria and process (e.g. request for proposal) are appropriate for selecting members of the settlement planning team?
- What professional licenses and certifications are applicable?
- What work product does each settlement planning team member provide?
- Who integrates their individual work product into a settlement plan - and how?
- When is a settlement plan appropriate?
- What are the standard components of a settlement plan?
- What does a settlement plan cost?
- What settlement planning licensing and e&o coverage are necessary and applicable to protect customers?
- What does a settlement planning " fiduciary standard " mean in terms of: " best interest ", " full disclosure " and " informed consent "?
- What other metrics (besides cost) are appropriate for evaluating the success of a settlement plan?
- How are settlement planning team members compensated?
- What alternative compensation methods and/or business models would allow settlement planning to become more efficient and/or reduce costs?
- Once implemented, who has responsibility to monitor and/or amend the settlement plan?
- Which professional associations include " settlement planners " and what relevant certification programs do they offer?
- How does settlement planning differ from special needs planning? ASNP's earlier 12-part "Special Needs Planning" webinar series provides a framework for analyzing this issue.
S2KM summaries of past ASNP educational conferences:
- 2007 ASNP Annual Meeting
- 2008 ASNP Annual Meeting
- 2009 ASNP Annual Meeting
- 2010 ASNP Annual Meeting
- 2011 ASNP Annual Meeting
- 2012 ASNP Annual Meeting
- 2013 ASNP Annual Meeting
- 2014 ASNP Annual Meeting
For additional S2KM reporting about settlement planning, see the structured settlement wiki.