Articles Tagged with Variable Universal Life

shutterstock_80511298-300x218Current Independent Financial Group, LLC (Independent Financial) broker Gerhard Heuer (Heuer) has been subject to six customer complaints – many of which concern suitability concerns over recommendations for Variable Universal Life (VUL) policies.  The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating the customer complaints against Heuer.

In April 2017 a customer complained that he was told that his VUL would remain active with the currently scheduled monthly premiums and requested $43,000 in damages.  The claim was settled.

VUL are complex insurance and investment products that investors must fully understand the risks and benefits of prior to investing.  One feature of a VUL policy is that the owner can allocate a portion of his premium payments to a separate sub-account that can be used to grow in value through investments.  Monthly charges for the life insurance policy, including a cost of insurance charge and administrative fees, are deducted from the policy’s cash value.  The cash value of the policy may increase or decrease based on the performance of the sub-account investments.  In addition, the VUL policy terminates, or lapses, if at any time the net cash surrender value is insufficient to pay the monthly cost deductions.  Upon termination of the policy, the remaining cash value becomes worthless.

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shutterstock_186471755The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker James Moniz (Moniz) concerning allegations that while registered with Signator Investors, Inc. (Signator) Moniz made unsuitable recommendations to a married couple that they purchase a Variable Universal Life insurance policy (VUL) on the husband’s life and use the proceeds of a reverse mortgage to purchase a variable annuity and open a managed investment account. According to FINRA, after the insurance company questioned the VUL application, Moniz caused the application to be re-submitted with changed or added information without first informing the customers of his actions. FINRA found that Moniz also inaccurately represented the source of funds for the variable annuity and managed account.

VUL are complex dual part insurance and investment products that investors must fully understand the risks and benefits of prior to investing. One feature of a VUL policy is that the owner can allocate a portion of his premium payments to a separate sub-account that can be used to grow in value through investments. The other part of the investment is the life insurance policy where the policies monthly charges including a cost of insurance charge and administrative fees are deducted from the policy’s cash value. The cash value of the policy may increase or decrease based on the performance of the selected investments. However, customers must be careful in purchasing VULs because the policy terminates, or lapses, if at any time the net cash surrender value is insufficient to pay the monthly cost deductions. When the policy terminates the remaining cash value becomes worthless.

Given the costs involved in purchasing VULs, brokers must be careful to ensure that the recommendation to invest in VULs is suitable for the client. While an investor may be able to afford the initial purchase price of the policy it may be too expensive for the client to continue to make premium contributions over time causing the policy to lapse.

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shutterstock_50740552The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker David Herlicka (Herlicka) concerning allegations that from 2003 through 2011 Herlicka made unsuitable trade recommendations to seven customers in connection with the sales of Variable Universal Life (VULs). FINRA found that Herlicka also made misstatements and failed to adequately disclose information regarding VULs, including the fact that they have surrender fees. FINRA also alleged that Herlicka recorded false information regarding customer net worth and annual income on VUL applications for four of these customers and that he, in 2011, also effected an unauthorized trade of a VUL for a customer.

VUL are complex insurance and investment products that investors must fully understand the risks and benefits of prior to investing. One feature of a VUL policy is that the owner can allocate a portion of his premium payments to a separate sub-account that can be used to grow in value through investments. Monthly charges for the life insurance policy, including a cost of insurance charge and administrative fees, are deducted from the policy’s cash value. The cash value of the policy may increase or decrease based on the performance of the sub-account investments. In addition, the VUL policy terminates, or lapses, if at any time the net cash surrender value is insufficient to pay the monthly cost deductions. Upon termination of the policy, the remaining cash value becomes worthless.

Given the costs involved in purchasing VULs, brokers must be careful to ensure that the recommendation to invest in VULs is suitable for the client. For example, if a policy is too expensive for the client to continue to make premium contributions to the policy could lapse over time. This is precisely what FINRA alleges that Herlicka failed to consider in some recommendations to his clients.

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