Well, I've been predicting for the better part of a year that the structured settlement market would see at least one, and possibly two, life markets head for the exit and yesterday the second shoe dropped, with Symetra following Hartford Financial's decision to shut down their structured settlement operations several months back.
Symetra Life Insurance Company, previously known as SAFECO Life, was one of the pioneers of the structured settlement industry and was for decades an incubator of some of the top management talent and innovative thinking during it's hey day. However, with the continued consolidation of the structured settlement market into a few large life insurance companies as the major players, the continued viability of a modest sized, A rated life company in such a business environment was in some peoples eyes, destined to exit at some point.
While on the face this would appear to be a net loss for the profession, the unique relationship that Symetra Financial has with Berkshire Hathaway will, according to the letter to agents, allow the marketing and administrative team at Symetra to remain intact and concentrate on expanding Berkshire Hathaway's market share in the structured settlement market. Good news for the staff and administrators at Symetra who include some of the most experienced and highly regarded professionals in the structured settlement profession, as well as good news for Berkshire in that this group can now fully focus on one market and company.
It also resolves a lingering issue for NSSTA in that Symetra, despite being one of the oldest and most productive members of the structured settlement profession, was removed from membership in the trade association due to the corporate parents involvement in factoring transactions through a subsidiary. Does this now mean that Mal Deener, as past NSSTA President, will no longer be persona non grata at NSSTA meetings? Hopefully so.
The last day to submit premium is December 14th, 2012, after which Symetra Financial will continue to service all current contracts and handle policyholder requests.