Magazine article Black Enterprise

Insurance for the Living

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Insurance for the Living

Article excerpt

DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DESperate measures. For the terminally ill, those times are often spent wondering how to pay medical bills and the mortgage, or keep the lights on and the heat up. For many people in mortal crisis, the only way they can get any financial relief is by tapping the sanctity of their homeownership or life insurance policy.

"At this point, the terminally ill person can't work and has realized that savings, disability and Medicaid just aren't enough to cover the growing stack of unpaid bills," says Dave Olson, managing director at Ironwood Capital Partners, an investment banking firm in Hartford, Conn.

With hardly anywhere else to turn, growing numbers of terminally ill people are being driven to try three specific and sometimes costly techniques to get fast cash. Taking an accelerated benefit from a life insurance policy is one way. Applying for a reverse mortgage on a home is another. Finally, a dying person who is particularly desperate has yet another option: to sell his or her life insurance policy to a third party. In such cases, the policy is sold at a steep discount from its face value. People familiar with these transactions caution, however, that in some cases unscrupulous investors seek to take advantage of desperately ill individuals.

ACCELERATED BENEFITS

The accelerated benefit strategy is one of the easiest ways to get cash quick, says Larkin Teasley, president and CEO of Golden State Mutual Life Insurance in Los Angeles. Like many insurance firms, Golden State (No. 3 on BE's top 15 black-owned insurance companies list) offers a Living Benefit Rider, also known as an Accelerated Benefit Rider. …

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