Settling a personal injury case is unfamiliar territory for most people. Along with navigating the legal process, plaintiffs must make critical financial decisions about how to receive – and manage – settlement proceeds.
At Independent Life, we recognize that these complex financial considerations are confusing during an already stressful and difficult time. We also know that injured people have only one chance to get their settlements right and secure their financial futures.
That’s why Independent Life has a different take on structured settlements. As the only insurance company dedicated to structured settlements, we partner with your attorneys and settlement and financial planners to create a streamlined structuring experience that makes the most of your settlement dollars. At Independent Life, we believe that the interests of the plaintiff are paramount.
A structured settlement is an arrangement whereby a lump sum settlement or award in a personal physical injury, wrongful death or workers’ compensation dispute is transformed into a series of periodic payments made by a regulated insurance company. This type of arrangement helps to alleviate both the tax and financial management burdens on the injured person that often result from managing lump-sum settlements.
A Structured Settlement provides a stream of periodic, tax-free payments to help replace lost earnings and pay for ongoing medical care and other expenses.
Just as each personal injury case is unique, so is each structured settlement. Income payments can begin immediately or be deferred until they are needed. The periodic payment amounts can be equal or vary over time. And they can be set up to last for a few years or a lifetime. A structured settlement removes the pressure, stress and responsibility of managing your finances and ensures you have the money you expect when you need it.
In 1982, Congress passed legislation establishing the right for plaintiffs to receive periodic payment settlement awards on a tax-free basis and enabling structured settlement payments to be funded with an annuity issued by a regulated life insurance company like Independent Life Insurance Company.
Structured Settlements provide:
Risk protection through guaranteed, regular payments
Structured settlements are designed to provide confidence and security. Unlike traditional investments, which can lose money, structured settlements are guaranteed and, therefore, protect you against market volatility and interest rate fluctuations. Cases involving serious injuries and continuing medical expenses present the additional risk of outliving a settlement. Choosing a structured settlement transfers these risks and the hassle of money management from your shoulders to an insurance company and protects your settlement funds against loss from market downturns or even mismanagement.
Many lump sum settlements meant to last for decades are exhausted within only a few years. With a regulated life insurance company delivering your scheduled payments over a defined period of years, or even your lifetime, you will receive guaranteed income that helps ensure you have the money when you need it.
Structured settlement payments can be used to meet everyday needs as well as significant medical expenses or even future obligations like your retirement or a child’s college education. Payments can start immediately or be deferred to a future date. They can be made monthly, quarterly, annually or in future lump sums. If your needs are expected to increase at some point, your settlement can be structured so payments increase at that time, and you can also elect to build in cost-of-living adjustments.
One of the greatest risks of a lump-sum settlement is the temptation to overspend and exhaust your funds. Reports from plaintiff attorneys with significant personal injury experience confirm that, unfortunately, many large lump sum settlements are completely gone after only a few years.
By structuring your personal injury settlement or award, you are taking advantage of a one-time opportunity for significant tax savings as your initial payment and each future payment are all tax-free. In contrast, if you choose to receive the settlement as a single lump-sum payment, earnings from investing the money are typically fully taxable.
A structured settlement can be set up to allow the injured person to maintain eligibility for means-tested public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Because of their flexible payout options, structured settlements can be combined with public benefit programs and serve as the core of an integrated plan designed by your settlement consultant.
Structured settlements can be set up to guarantee a minimum number of payments. That way, if the injured person dies before the minimum number of payments have been made, a named beneficiary or the claimant’s estate will receive the remaining payments tax-free.
In addition to taxes, the invested proceeds from lump-sum cash settlements are likely to incur ongoing management and administrative fees. By contrast, structured settlements do not have investment fees or ongoing management costs that erode cash settlements.
Strict state regulatory oversight and reserving requirements provide structured settlements with an added layer of financial protection on top of Independent Life’s sound financial profile. Our guarantees are further reinforced by our A+ rated reinsurance partner, Hannover Re US, and we earn high marks from rating agencies designated and approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Rating agencies like Egan Jones and KBRA cite Independent Life’s high credit quality investment portfolio, the diversified experience of the company’s management team and demonstrated acceptance by key industry players. And when settlements were brought before judges, they approved Independent Life hundreds of times.
Our commitment to you Because of our singular focus on structured settlements, closing out your case and issuing the annuity is always our top priority. Our responsive service extends through each payment, with our team available every step of the way to ensure everything goes smoothly. Plus, Independent Life’s one-of-a-kind Payee Protection Policy is in place to help protect you from factoring companies offering to pay pennies on the dollar to obtain your settlement payment rights.
Perhaps most importantly, Independent Life analyzes cases differently than other insurance companies. Our innovative and detailed approach to medical underwriting and the amount of time and resources our experts devote to analyzing your circumstances ensures that you receive the most competitive payout. In other words, Independent Life’s comprehensive, market-leading underwriting and pricing practices means you will get the most from your settlement and can be more confident that your financial needs will be met for the long term.