Welcome to "The Structured Structured Settlement Chronicle”, (the Chronicle) an Independent Life (IL) website resource that will feature regularly updated news coverage, with some editorial commentary, of industry events and developments which we view as valuable to structured settlement and personal injury settlement planning professionals and other stakeholders.
The primary focus of the Chronicle will address industry opportunities, association conferences and public policy issues.
Our Mission will also encompass the following:
- To help improve and grow the structured settlement market; and thereby
- To improve both claim management and personal injury settlement planning;
- And, most importantly, to advocate for, and help improve the lives of, injury victims and their families.
Similar to "The Structured Settlement Knowledge Network" (the Knowledge Network), we invite all structured settlement and settlement planning participants including personal injury victims, their families and their advisors to read the Chronicle. Our primary target audience, however, will be professional structured settlement and settlement planning stakeholders. These include: trial attorneys; claims professionals; risk managers; structured settlement consultants; settlement planners; special needs attorneys; judges; guardians; conservators; MSA and MSP professionals; as well as legislators, regulators and administrators who are addressing issues related to structured settlements.
What is the status of the structured settlement market as we launch the Chronicle?
Paradoxically, the current structured settlement market is both stagnant and transitional - and arguably, under-performing.
From an annuity premium perspective, the structured settlement market has been stagnant for several years. Despite a well-publicized "Growth Initiative", organized by the National Structured Settlement Trade Association (NSSTA) in 2015, recent results have fallen substantially short of the historic 12-month industry apex in 2008 after previously averaging close to $6 billion annually from 2001-2007:
- 2017 - $5.55 billion
- 2016 - $5.80 billion
- 2015 - $5.35 billion
- 2014 - $5.25 billion
- 2013 - $5.13 billion
- 2012 - $4.82 billion
- 2011 - $4.97 billion
- 2010 - $5.5 billion
- 2009 - $5.4 billion
- 2008 - $6.2 billion
During this same time-period, a series of developments have dramatically changed the structured settlement market:
- A shift in settlement dynamics due to the growing importance of plaintiff brokers and the settlement planning market.
- A perceived erosion of structured settlement economic benefit caused by historic low interest rates.
- Negative public policy and public relations impact of the "secondary market".
- Residual concerns, and improvements, resulting from the ELNY liquidation.
- Reduced competition among annuity providers resulting from market departures.
- Increased premium costs resulting from: 1) more conservative underwriting of impaired lives; and 2) some annuity providers being required to increase their reserves.
- A generational transition resulting from the death and/or retirement of industry founders.
Current structured settlement market annuity providers and brokers are seeking new approaches, applications and ideas to provide enhanced value for recipients of structured settlements in this new environment. To date, however, their efforts have been less successful than anticipated. The reason: in Independent Life’s opinion, many traditional structured settlement participants must still learn how to transition and/or adapt their business models and practices to these recent and ongoing market changes.
How large is the potential United States structured settlement market? Estimates vary. For perspective, however, consider Towers Watson's "Annual Updates on U.S. Tort Cost Trends". Based on Towers Watson's most recent (2011) study, consultant S2KM previously estimated that more than $170 billion of United States tort costs (excluding workers compensation) represented payments to injury victims and their attorneys during 2014. Within that framework, and in the context of an S2KM interview, one respected industry leader estimated the potential size of the U.S. structured settlement market to be $8 to $10 billion per year.
Given its current status (stagnant, transitional, under-performing), what can the Chronicle promise to contribute to improve and grow the structured settlement market?
First, we promise to provide our readers with timely and accurate coverage and analysis of the structured settlement and personal injury settlement planning markets. This coverage and analysis will not only highlight reasons why the structured settlement market, to date, has not been able to successfully transition to a new era of premium growth. It will also identify and promote new ideas and best practices for improving and growing the structured settlement market.
Second, in addition to timely and accurate information and analysis, new ideas and best practices, our postings will link to corresponding articles featured on "The Structured Settlement Knowledge Network" (the Knowledge Network), Independent Life's new online educational resource, to encourage industry education and educational marketing to further improve and grow the structured settlement market.
Thanks for visiting our site and please stop by often. You can expect and look for new postings on the Independent Life website every couple of weeks. Please also visit us on Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter as we expand our news coverage during the next few weeks.