December 5-6, 2017

Anticipating Tomorrow

A Symposium on Emerging Legal Issues in Life Insurance


Drinker Biddle’s seventh national symposium on life insurance and annuities examined legal considerations relating to developing technology as well as other emerging issues. This 1.5-day CLE program provided an opportunity for insurance company employees and regulators to network with industry peers. Agenda items are listed below.

Date: Tuesday, December 5 – Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Location: The Ritz-Carlton, 10 Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

9:15–10:00 a.m. - Breakfast and Registration

10:00–10:15 a.m. - Opening Remarks

10:15–11:15 a.m. - Cost of Insurance: What Has Been Filed and Decided and What Will Happen Next


  • Steven Sklaver, Partner, Susman Godfrey
  • Timothy J. O’Driscoll, Partner, Drinker Biddle 

The industry has seen at least 25 multi-plaintiff or purported class action COI cases in just the last 24 months. These cases are high stakes, and they raise tough issues. Now that the lawsuits are beginning to mature, we are seeing significant decisions and other developments. This panel consisted of lawyers on both sides of the cases. They addressed past, current and anticipated litigation issues and trends and engaged in dialogue.

11:15–11:30 a.m. - Break

11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. - Insurtech in Underwriting: Cutting-Edge Product Developments


  • Tom Nodine, Co-Founder & President, Life Epigenetics, and Executive Vice President, GWG Holdings
  • Kim Steiner, FSA, MAAA, Director of Experience Analysis, Willis Towers Watson
  • David Swaim, Director of Underwriting, Transamerica

Technology is causing transformational shifts in all sectors of our society, and life insurance underwriting appears to be (finally) next. In this session, a panel of genuine experts explored how these changes are affecting (and will continue to affect) the industry, with a particular focus on the future of underwriting. Attendees heard about how one company is using genetics (more particularly epigenetics) to predict life expectancy and the likelihood of contracting disease. Participants also learned the latest on product development and the use of data analytics in underwriting. This session included a question-and-answer portion.

12:30–1:45 p.m. - Lunch with Guest Speaker Samantha Ettus

Samantha Ettus, a renowned work/life wellness expert, inspires corporate cultures and increases employee retention and productivity through her executive workshops and keynotes. Thousands of professionals from C-level leaders to administrative assistants have benefited from Sam’s unique guidance on how to maximize work/life success. She finds that spark within each of us and turns it into a fire.

Since earning her undergraduate and MBA degrees from Harvard, Sam has become a bestselling author of five books, a writer for Forbes, a renowned speaker, and host of a nationally syndicated call-in radio show. Sam’s most recent book, “The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction,” was published last fall.

1:45–2:45 p.m. - Danger Ahead? The Intersection of Class Actions and Regulatory Exposure


  • Patrice Sabach, Assistant Vice President and Counsel, MassMutual
  • Parimah Hassouri, Partner, Drinker Biddle
  • Nolan B. Tully, Associate, Drinker Biddle

This panel reviewed the current class action landscape followed by a forward-thinking discussion of class action exposure. Among other topics, the panel discussed the recent efforts of the plaintiffs’ bar to use New York Insurance Code Section 4226 as a basis for class action liability against insurers, and the growing trend of class actions premised upon regulatory action. Attendees heard from a regulatory expert regarding trends in the regulatory arena and from litigation experts to gauge their reactions to those trends and the likelihood of consequent exposure.

2:45–3:45 p.m. - Lapse Litigation: California & Beyond


  • Megan Curoe, Legal Counsel, Lincoln Benefit Life Company
  • David Loper, Senior Vice President and Senior Associate Counsel, Protective Life
  • Kate L. Villanueva, Partner, Drinker Biddle

Lapse cases present unique challenges for insurers. This panel began by examining the current landscape of lapse litigation, including recent decisions in which courts have granted summary judgment in favor of insurers. The panel then reviewed the question raised in several pending California-based lapse cases: Must insurers comply with statutory lapse amendments enacted after policy inception? Despite DOI guidance on this issue, insurers have faced mixed results in recent cases. The panel discussed those results and explored the likelihood of similar challenges arising in other jurisdictions.

3:45–4:00 p.m. - Break


  • Anya Prince, Associate Professor of Law and Member of the University of Iowa Genetics Cluster, University of Iowa
  • Kevin Reynolds, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, Penn Mutual
  • Don Walters, President and CEO, The Compliance & Ethics Forum for Life Insurers

If the future of underwriting will include genetics, data analytics, and online policies, what legal and ethical issues might then arise? Could insurers be accused of (unintended) discrimination? What will regulators think and what have they said so far about this technology? What about the privacy issues? This session explored the ever-changing legal environment affected by the use of new technology, with a discussion of the current and future U.S. regulatory environment and what we can learn from international regulatory successes and failures on these issues.

5:00–6:30 p.m. - Reception

6:30 - Depart from Lobby for group dinners at various Philadelphia restaurants.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

7:45–8:45 a.m. - Breakfast Workshop with Samantha Ettus

9:00–9:15 a.m. - Announcements / Opening Remarks

9:15–10:15 a.m. - Insurable Interest Issues: Old Problems Still Need to Be Solved, But New Ones Are Now Arriving


  • Paul Marcus, Managing Member, PM Financial Expert Consultants
  • Stephen J. Toretto, Vice President, Associate General Counsel, Pacific Life Insurance Company
  • Stephen C. Baker, Partner, Drinker Biddle
  • Gregory J. Star, Partner, Drinker Biddle

Insureds who were the subject of large face amount policies from the STOLI era are beginning to die in considerable numbers and we have seen several landmark STOLI death claim decisions recently—with some affecting large policy blocks involving thousands of policies. At the same time, with the economy again in full swing, many in the industry are being asked to opine on newly packaged “programs” that raise thorny insurable interest issues reminiscent of the early days of STOLI. This panel enlightened the audience with an outline of how these cases are constructed, a recap of the recent decisions, and an explanation of the current and expected trends.

10:15–11:15 a.m. - Annuity Mortality Problems: Overpayments on Life Contingent Annuities


  • Rebecca Baldwin, Senior Manager, Allstate Life
  • Geoffrey A. Sawyer, Partner, Drinker Biddle

Erosion of the reliability of the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File has made it difficult for issuers of life contingent annuities to track mortality. This can lead to significant overpayments on life contingent annuities. This panel addressed these issues and outlined practical ways to identify potential overpayments and methods to verify survival; comply with fraud-reporting requirements; and pursue overpayment recoveries.

11:15 a.m. - Departure (boxed lunch available)


Drinker Biddle is an accredited CLE provider in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.


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