American General conducted a survey on consumers’ knowledge of structured settlements after an injury. The results show that much work needs to be done to educate the public so it is fully informed of the financial options if a life-altering injury occurs.
Of those surveyed, 80% had not been involved in a personal injury case, while 20% said they or a family member had been. All were asked to read injury scenarios (a car accident, a spouse killed on the job) and respond. Those with personal injury case experience were also asked to answer questions about their real-life experiences.
After reading the car accident scenario and given the option of choosing a lump-sum settlement or structured payments, 65% of those surveyed chose a lump sum. Forty-nine percent of the respondents said they could make their own financial decisions and plans.
These percentages are particularly unsettling when looking at the responses to another survey question. Of the 20% surveyed who said they or a family member had been involved in a personal injury case, some took lump-sum settlements instead of structured payments. When these individuals were asked how much of the settlement remained, 57% said the entire lump sum had been depleted. Another 10% said less than 25% remained.
Three-fourths of middle-class Americans say their estimate of what they’ll need to live on in retirement is based on “some sort of guess,” the survey finds.
With a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research showing that 46% of American retirees have just $10,000 when they die, the results of the American General survey aren’t surprising. The reality is, most people have little knowledge about how to make their money last. In stressful situations, such as settlement negotiations, injured parties need information to make sound choices–choices that will give them a secure financial future.
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