By Erni @

Accidents leading to exorbitant medical bills are unfortunately a part of the reality many Americans face each day. Often medical bills from those accidents end up paid for with negotiated annuities called structured settlements.

This is a reasonable arrangement for many victims, but there is occasionally some nefarious behavior attached to the business. Some of the planners who create the structured settlements are offered incentives to steer victims into the products sold by particular insurance companies. These kickbacks could influence planners to recommend plans that aren’t in the best interests of victims. That’s obviously unethical for anyone giving financial advice. Kiplinger’s H. Dennis Beaver writes

Most structured settlement planners are professionals who are well-compensated. But when insurance companies begin offering international trips, fancy golf events and other pricey rewards for planners steering injured clients to that insurer’s annuities, you get huge ethical problems.

For example, on Oct. 19, Pacific Life opens a six-day incentive trip for structured settlement planners at the Four Seasons in the Maldives. A structured settlement planner forwarded the invitation to me.

Pacific Life bills this as an “educational setting.” Since the Four Seasons advertises white sand beaches and turquoise waters, I suspect that attendees reap personal benefits beyond the educational opportunities.

The company is also funding a second structured settlement incentive trip to the Four Seasons in Dubai.

Incentive trips like these raise a disturbing possibility: Will settlement planners push injury victims to accept certain insurers’ annuities even if there are better or less-expensive options?

Read more here.