Viatical Settlement Eligibility
To be eligible for a viatical settlement, one must be terminally or chronically ill with two or less years left to live. The viatical settlement company will then review your application and determine whether you qualify. Once the seller gets their lump sum payment, they can spend the money however they please.
- Written by Christian Simmons
Christian Simmons is a writer for RetireGuide and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®). He covers Medicare and important retirement topics. Christian is a former winner of a Florida Society of News Editors journalism contest and has written professionally since 2016.Read More
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- Reviewed ByEbony J. Howard, CPA
Ebony J. Howard, CPA
Credentialed Tax Expert at Intuit
Ebony J. Howard is a certified public accountant and freelance consultant with a background in accounting, personal finance, and income tax planning and preparation. She specializes in analyzing financial information in the health care, banking and real estate sectors.Read More
- Published: November 18, 2022
- Updated: January 10, 2023
- 4 min read time
- This page features 3 Cited Research Articles
- Edited By
- To be eligible for a viatical settlement, you must be terminally or chronically ill, with two or less years to live.
- The viatical settlement company will review your life insurance policy and health records to determine whether you qualify.
- There is no age requirement to be eligible for a viatical settlement.
Who Is Eligible for a Viatical Settlement?
To be eligible for a viatical settlement, you must either be terminally or chronically ill. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) defines terminal illness as having a diagnosis expected to result in death within 24 months or less.
Chronic illness, on the other hand, is defined as either being unable to perform at least two daily living activities without assistance — such as bathing, dressing, or eating — or requiring regular health and safety supervision due to a severe cognitive impairment.
The specific requirements for diagnoses can vary by settlement company or by the state you live in. The Life Insurance Settlement Organization (LISA) keeps a list of state guidelines that outline important state-level criteria, such as the length of time you need to have held your policy, payout percentages and more.
What To Consider When Selling Your Policy
Life insurance is designed to financially provide for your loved ones after your death. But it is also an asset in a long-term financial plan. If you sell your life insurance while you are still alive, the third party that buys it will assume payment of any premiums and will collect the full benefit after your death instead of your original beneficiaries.
Most states regulate viatical settlements. The National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) also drafted a Life Settlements Model Act for states to use when legislating viatical and life settlements. State laws may vary, so it’s important to check the details with your state insurance department and your life insurance provider.
Before looking into a viatical settlement, be sure to also know the following about your current life insurance policy.
- What type of policy do you have?
- How long have you held it?
- How much are your premiums?
- How much is the face value?
- Is it transferrable?
- Does your state regulate viatical settlements? If so, what are the guidelines and requirements?
- What are, if any, the tax implications?
The answer to these questions can help you evaluate an offer from a viatical settlement company and whether it’s right for you.
What To Expect With a Viatical Settlement
Viatical settlements are different from a life settlement due to the life expectancy and health status of the seller. Only someone who is terminally or seriously chronically ill is eligible for a viatical settlement. Given the extremity of qualifications, there is no age requirement for a viatical settlement.
The transaction is usually completed quickly because of the sensitive nature of viatical settlements and the 24-month life expectancy limit. The lump sum payment you receive is largely tax-free and will typically be between 50% to 70% of the full payout of your policy.
There are many reasons why a terminally ill person might choose to sell their policy. For example, you might need money to pursue alternative treatments, make needed home adjustments, or pay for end-of-life care.
You also might want to use the cash to pay off large debts to help make things easier for loved ones later. Some people prefer to share the funds directly with their beneficiaries, so they can witness the results. Others might use their lump-sum payment to travel or simply enjoy the time they have left with friends and family in whatever form that might be.
It’s important to compare viatical companies, talk to their representatives, and get quotes and detailed outlines of the process before deciding. Choosing a viatical settlement may have financial and emotional effects, so it may not be right for every person or situation. You should discuss all the implications with your family, beneficiaries and trusted financial advisors.
3 Cited Research Articles
- LISA (n.d.). Search Results for Viatical (Guidelines). Retrieved from https://www.lisa.org/?s=viatical
- NAIC (n.d.). Viatical Settlements Model Act. Retrieved from https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/MDL-697.pdf
- NCOIL (n.d.). National Conference of Insurance Legislators Life Settlements Model Act. Retrieved from https://ncoil.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/AdoptedLifeSettlementsModel.pdf