by Structured Settlement Watchdog®
What is being marketed to investors as a "secondary market annuity" is not an annuity. It is an investment in structured settlement payment rights. Participants in the structured settlement secondary write extensively about what they are not selling, to get "juiced up" for the search engines.
Some are brazen enough to list the names of the underlying annuity issuers to the structured settlement payment rights and position it as if they were "some of our carriers"and that they were actually appointed with these carriers. We've noticed that one company puts the following brands in the footer of every web page [ a sampling of trademark registrations is included. Source: USPTO.gov].
- MetLife Registered with USPTO 5/30/1989 Registration 1541862
- Pacific Life Registered with USPTO 6/23/1998 Registration 2168494
- Berkshire Hathaway
- New York Life
- The Hartford Registered with USPTO 12/29/2009 Registration 3731394
The secondary market seller also portrays American General, Symetra, John Hancock and Allianz as"one of our carriers".
The disclaimer on the website proclaims that "secondary market annuities are not securities". But are they annuities?
I certainly have no problem at all with a company that sells structured settlement payment rights to investors. However, to position them as annuities when they are not, using the goodwill and trademarks of annuity issuer who they may not be appointed with and implying that they are your carriers, is misleading.
Even the much maligned used car salesman selling you a 2006 Lexus, on the lot next to a 2010 Mercedes doesn't say he is a Lexus or Mercedes dealer. He sell used cars.
On April 14, 2014 a potentially significant event occurred, with ramifications to both the primary and secondary structured settlement and annuity markets when SMA Hub, Inc., a Lake Oswego, Oregon company that markets structured settlement payment rights to investors and tries to do things right, submitted an application to the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) seeking to trademark the term "secondary market annuities".
The description accompanying the application is as follows "Annuity services, namely, account and investment administration; Annuity services, namely, account and investment administration and the investment and distribution of annuity funds; Annuity underwriting; Financial services, namely, providing an investment option available for variable annuity and variable life insurance products; Investment management of and distribution of annuities; Investment management of and distribution of variable annuities; Issuance and administration of annuities; Underwriting, issuance and administration of annuities" [Source:USPTO.gov]
The annuity market place and its consumers do not need market confusion.
State and federal legislators and regulators are blowing it big time by not defining what is and what is not an annuity and abject failure to require licensing and standards in the structured settlement secondary market on par with life settlements and viatical settlements. Same to NAIC, NCOIL and the rest.
If what the secondary market players are selling IS an annuity then for heaven's sake regulate their business practices as such and provide the same statutory protections!
Life insurance companies that don't protect their brands and registered trademarks have only themselves to blame.