Friday, May 20, 2011

Life(less) Partners

Five months ago, we reported on the bizarre tale of Life Partners (LP), "a fast-growing company in Waco, Texas, [which] has made large fees from its life-insurance transactions."

There were a number of problems in LP's business model, not the least of which was their on-call oncologist of dubious reputation, and the apparent lack of transparency on the part of the founding "Partner."

Adding to their woes this time around is this news from BusinessWeek:

"Life Partners Holdings Inc., which buys life-insurance policies at a discount and sells shares to investors, said Friday that it could face civil charges stemming from a federal investigation into how it forecasts the insured's life expectancy."


It seems safe to say that receiving notice that one's company is the target of an SEC investigation, not to mention a potential civil suit, ranks right up there with arriving at the office and finding the "60 Minutes" crew waiting patiently on the stoop.

There's little question that the concept behind LP's business is valuable: look at how many carriers now include an Accelerated Death Benefit with newly-issued policies. The problem is that companies like LP seem to be taking advantage of both the insured and the (prospective) investor. As my father used to say, "bulls make money, and bears make money, but pigs go to market."
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