A structured settlement annuity refers to the recurring payments made by an insurance company to an individual in the case of out-of-court settlements . It is a structured settlement because it involves an agreement for a predetermined amount of cash for a fixed length of time. This is commonly used as an alternative to lump sum settlements .
Also known as periodic payments, these could be made for the duration of the life of the claimant. The payment can be in the form of equal installments or installments of varying amounts. Because these are long-term payments, it is important to get an assurance of the credentials of the annuity provider to ensure that it is capable of meeting the terms of the settlement .
The start date, duration and frequency of the payment are also specified in the settlement agreement. These are calculated based on the claimant's monthly expenses, present age, extent of hazard in occupation and retirement plans. Under certain conditions, transferring of obligation from the insurance company making the payment to a third party is allowed.
Periodic payments from a structured settlement are tax-free, but only if the structure of payments is not altered once both parties have agreed upon it. While this may give recipients a sense of security, some are concerned that the payments will lose their value over the term of the payout because of inflation. It is also possible that their financial situation has changed, so that they need money sooner rather than later to meet expenses or they find that the payments no longer fit their budget.
These are some of the reasons that drive people to sell structured settlement payments. Selling future payments in part or whole for lump sum cash allows them to decide what to do with their money to secure their present needs and future financial standing. They can use it to purchase big-ticket items such as a home or a car, to finance their education or just reinvest it where the dividends are greater.
There are many institutions that buy structured settlements , with transactions running in the tens of thousands up to millions of dollars. In choosing a settlement purchaser, it is important to look into the past payment records and working relationships with insurance companies. A consistently good payment record and working relationship with various insurance companies means a good chance of the transaction being approved quickly.
Purchasers should also be licensed, insured and bonded. This is to protect clients and ensure that they get their cash if the purchaser goes out of business. It is also advisable to take advantage of the free consultations offered by settlement purchasers, not only to assess a prospect, but to get different opinions on whether selling the settlement is the best option and if there are other options as well.
The decision to keep a structured settlement intact or to sell the payments is a major one. A structured settlement annuity can be a source of great comfort for retired individuals or people with impaired earning ability, since it offers the advantage of a regular income without having to worry about managing it. On the other hand, people who sell structured settlement payments gain control of their own finances, and can use the money from the sale for an alternative investment plan that could earn them more than what they were getting from the settlement . Ideally, however, the latter should be resorted to only if the individual is confident of managing his own finances in a competent manner.