The end of single claimant Qualified Settlement Funds?

This week Mark Wahlstrom looks at the often careless and frequently dishonest method's certain plaintiff experts have used to try and justify the use of a single claimant case to settle a personal injury case, when often the only true motivation is simply taking control of the structured settlement funding process away from the defendant. The plaintiff experts who push the single claimant settlement fund strategy as an effective planning tool and selling "fools gold" to their attorney clients and now run the risk of profound professional embarrassment by continuing this tactic.

Single claimant QSF, Fools Gold for settlement planners.

Single claimant QSF, Fools Gold for settlement planners.

As someone who has worked exclusively as a plaintiff settlement expert for over 25 years now Mark has a personal understanding of why plaintiff brokers and trial lawyers feel so aggrieved about the process of structured settlements and what they view as excessive defense control and interference in the process. However, the answer to that process should not be the careless and casual use of the IRC 468B qualified settlement fund process to add additional expense, process and potential IRS audit scrutiny to the settlement process simply so they don't have to split a commission with a defense broker. 

As Mark mentioned in the earlier commentary, there is plenty of blame to go around for the past, but we can't continue to live in the past, we need to move forward. However, the result of this over reach by plaintiff brokers on single claimant cases has led to a situation where there are no life companies that will underwrite a structure on a single claimant case, forcing brokers to look at alternative products or approaches, or to go back to their clients and explain how their time and funds on setting up a QSF were wasted.

The primary purpose of a Qualified Settlement Fund should be to administer a multi-claimant case in cost effective and compliant fashion so as to provide the best planning option to MULTIPLE claimants. Single claimant cases should be legal but used on truly exceptional cases, not as a short cut to close defendants out of the process. There is little to be gained by past practices on BOTH sides of this issue and eventually there needs to be a set of industry standards developed and agreed to by all stakeholders or we run the risk of further shrinking our profession in both numbers of brokers, life markets and premium written.

A back door attack on QSF's?

In this weeks edition of Speaking of Settlements to be released on Thursday, Mark Wahlstrom provides a video commentary pointed directly at the two professional associations that work in the arena of structured settlements, NSSTA and the SSP.

With the NSSTA annual meeting scheduled for Palm Springs, CA in April and the SSP annual meeting set for Las Vegas, NV in early May, I think the time is right to start an honest discussion about the low level rumblings that there is a concerted effort underway in the profession to "take on the issue of single claimant QSF's" and to end the practice once and for all.

You can read and view the full commentary at The Settlement Channel, but the video commentary is provided here as well. Check it out and give some real thought as to what the implications are of a shrinking structured settlement profession and the concentration of power that is occurring.

Seed, time and harvest, why you should join the structured settlement expert directory

As you look to expand your marketing and professional planning practice in 2013, one of the tools you need to consider is the use of video, which is still the single most powerful advertising and branding tool known to man. 

You have to plant a seed in order to get a harvest.

You have to plant a seed in order to get a harvest.

In this 9 minute tutorial, Mark Wahlstrom, the founder of The Structured Settlement Expert Directory, reviews the upgrades in the directory, but also the proven results it has returned for the majority of it's members. Even if you are not a member of the structured settlement profession, this examination of how to effectively couple video, social media and a coherent marketing campaign together, will be invaluable in discovering why video works and why being part of a network or directory is so essential.

This video, entitled "Seed, time and harvest", looks at the concept of planting your seed, i.e. your financial resources, in fertile ground, and then what it takes in on going effort to successfully tend to the crop's growth and eventual harvest. You can not engage in a video or social media campaign by throwing dollars at it and not also have a steadfast and logical commitment to use it as part of your on going networking and branding tools. Neglect, once the money is spent on videos, only leads to your field being infested with weeds and your crop dying, wasting the time and money spent on the front end. 

Additionally it takes patience, something few of us have anymore, to allow an effective campaign to achieve powerful results. Nothing is cheap and nothing is fast in marketing and branding programs, although the relative cost for this video directory is LESS than you would spend to shoot even one video, let along multiple broadcast. Regardless, it is vital people have realistic and reasonable expectations as to what these sort of social media tools can offer, as well as the additional commitment to integrate them into your existing campaigns so as to insure success. 

If you want to know more about how to become part of The Structured Settlement Expert Directory, go to our contact page here on the site and we will be happy to assist you.