Portfolio shrinkage. Lack of real estate liquidity. Job losses. As the economic slowdown drags on, there are many reasons that hard-pressed individuals might want to sell no-longer-needed life insurance policies. "Anecdotally, I've heard that more people are showing interest in life settlements," says Scott Hawkins, an analyst at Conning Research & Consulting in Hartford, Conn.

Darwin Bayston, executive director of the Life Insurance Settlement Association in Orlando, Fla., reports that calls from consumers are on the increase, another indicator that insured individuals may be looking for cash today rather than beneficiary enrichment tomorrow.

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