Insurance Products

When life insurance companies face legal and regulatory challenges in the development, sale and administration of products, they turn to Sutherland.

Insurance companies operate in a highly regulated industry and must develop new financial products to remain competitive. That’s where Sutherland’s experience and depth comes into play. Our premier insurance products practice represents producers and distributors of fixed and variable insurance and annuity products and counsels them on the myriad legal and regulatory issues involving the development, marketing, distribution and administration of these products. We take pride in partnering with our clients to help them meet their business goals while also helping minimize their exposure to legal and regulatory risk.

We customize our role to our clients’ specific needs, and work with the entire spectrum of insurance companies and products, including group and individual products offered through SEC-registered and unregistered separate accounts; fixed, variable and stable value products offered in the retail, retirement, institutional and high-net-worth marketplaces; and innovative payout annuity, guaranteed retirement income and long-term care products. Our clients span the industry and include insurance companies of all sizes, as well as mutual funds, banks, other financial institutions and foreign-owned financial holding companies and their subsidiaries.

Our insurance products practice is complemented by Sutherland’s comprehensive Insurance Practice Group, which includes more than 125 attorneys who focus on insurance transactional, corporate finance and litigation matters. We are often called on to conduct comprehensive compliance audits, including mock SEC and FINRA exams, and represent our clients on compliance related matters with regulators. Because many of our attorneys have extensive regulatory experience we are well-positioned to anticipate and proactively resolve issues before they expose our clients to regulatory and other legal risks.

Why Sutherland
Relationships with regulators.
Our attorneys work closely with the SEC’s Division of Investment Management and Division of Trading and Markets, as well as with FINRA, regarding the registration, distribution and advertising of insurance products. We have strong relationships with various state regulators, particularly in New York.

Agency experience. Many of our attorneys worked for the SEC or FINRA before coming to Sutherland, including former counsels to SEC Commissioners, a former chief counsel in the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations and a former chief of the Office of Insurance Products in the SEC’s Division of Investment Management.

Comprehensive service. Our attorneys don’t complete matters and then roll off the case. We provide ongoing advice in all substantive areas affecting insurance companies, their products and their separate accounts, including counseling on the scope of and methodologies for annual reviews and benchmarking annual reports, reviewing oversight procedures and advising on compliance with securities, insurance, anti-money laundering, privacy, advertising, electronic commerce, agent training and supervision and other requirements that impact insurance products.

Product administration. Along with product development, we regularly assist clients with creating checklists, job aids and processing standards that in-house personnel can use on specific issues that arise with administering insurance products. These issues range from contract issuance and premium processing through the payment of death benefits and other contract terminations. We also advise clients regarding issues relating to retained asset accounts; BOLI, COLI, STOLI and STOA (stranger owned or originated life insurance and annuities); life settlements and similar matters.

Compliance and investigations. Many of our clients call on us to conduct reviews and investigations of their insurance product operations and to assist in evaluating compliance programs and procedures. We have significant experience in conducting mock SEC, FINRA and market conduct audits of our clients’ operations. We also assist with issues arising from SEC, FINRA or state market conduct examinations.

Proactive approach. We regularly interface with state and federal regulators to affect and shape the regulatory landscape for life insurance companies and their products. We actively monitor state insurance regulatory developments on a broad basis and attend and participate in NAIC National Meetings, task forces and working groups.

Litigation experience. Whenever necessary, we can seamlessly transition to defending clients’ practices and products.

Nationally recognized team. Our insurance team has been recognized by Chambers, with such comments as, “Sutherland has a very deep bench in the insurance practice. If you have a technical insurance matter, you’ll be able to find a practitioner there who can provide you with advice in that area.” – Chambers USA 2014

Nuts and Bolts
Sutherland’s extensive knowledge and experience covers all types of insurance products

  • Variable life insurance and annuity contracts
  • Traditional life insurance and annuity products
  • Universal life insurance
  • Annuity contracts and life insurance policies with equity index and market value adjustment features
  • Transfers of pension obligations by means of group annuity contracts
  • BOLI, COLI and STOLI policies
  • Financial guaranty insurance, GICs and funding agreements
  • Privately placed corporate and high-net-worth insurance products
    • Offshore insurance products
  • Other types of interest sensitive and insurance/derivative-based products

We advise all types of manufacturers, distributors and joint venture partners

  • Insurance companies and their affiliates
  • Banks and mutual funds
  • Retail and wholesale broker-dealers
  • Hedge funds
  • Investment advisers
  • Retirement plans and their service providers

We assist with all types of matters involving insurance products

  • Product design and development
  • Federal securities law regulation and exemptions
  • Tax and ERISA matters
  • State regulation
  • Organizing and operating registered and private investment companies
  • FINRA and other insurance product distribution matters
  • Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley regulation
  • Compliance programs
    • Developing compliance policies and procedures
  • Regulatory exams and performance of mock SEC, FINRA and state compliance audits
  • Electronic commerce, privacy and anti-money laundering regulation
  • Mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures
  • Litigation

Take Action
From product design to defense, Sutherland assists clients with the full range of insurance product issues. We understand the challenges that strict regulations create, and take the time to understand our clients’ goals, enabling speed to market while maintaining prudent compliance and risk management.

Selected Experience

Sutherland counsels a coalition of major life insurance companies on evolving state and federal regulations and other legal developments.

Sutherland represents a coalition of major life insurance companies, which collectively account for more than 80% of the annuity business in the United States, in their efforts to affect the direction and details of various SEC, FINRA, CFTC, NAIC and state rule proposals and initiatives. Recent efforts have focused on developing summary prospectuses for variable annuity products; counseling on the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act on insurance companies, including the status of insurance products as swaps under the Act and how the Volcker Rule affects insurance company investment operations; the insulated status of separate accounts; and various issues arising from FINRA rule book consolidation initiatives, including suitability, “know your customer” and advertising rules as they affect distributors and sellers of variable insurance products.

Sutherland helps insurance companies develop and seek regulatory approvals for cutting-edge financial products.

Sutherland counsels insurers in developing and obtaining regulatory approvals for innovative guaranteed lifetime income products tied to client brokerage accounts and mutual fund assets as well as other fixed and variable insurance products with novel guarantee and equity-indexed features.

Sutherland represents U.S. life insurance subsidiary of Swiss holding company in development of innovative variable annuities.

Sutherland is representing a significant U.S. life insurance subsidiary of a major Swiss holding company before the SEC’s division of investment management and the division of trading and markets to successfully register an innovative U.S. variable annuity for sale to U.S. expatriates living abroad.


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§  “Diversity at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP” to “Diversity at Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP”

§  “Diversity” section:

o   The firm’s emphasis on diversity is reflected in numerous ways throughout the firm, such as the manner in which we recruit lawyers and other employees, our work-life policies and our professional service efforts. We have been recognized for our achievements in diversity.  More importantly, we understand the significant role a diverse community plays in the firm's growth and development.

§  “Our Awards and Recognitions” section:

o   Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP continues to be recognized for its efforts to promote diversity in the workplace and in the legal profession. In 2016 we were named a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality,” having earned a perfect 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and we also were ranked a Top 100 Firm for Minority Attorneys by Law360. In addition, the firm was awarded the Gold Standard Certification for the fifth consecutive year by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum.

§  “Our Commitment” section:

o   Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP is committed to promoting diversity within the firm and in the legal profession.  We believe that diverse skills, knowledge and viewpoints make us a stronger, more productive law firm.  We hire and promote qualified lawyers and other professionals regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.  We understand that diversity enhances our value to clients by allowing us to staff our client teams with professionals who possess broad experiences and a spectrum of perspectives.

o   Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP has a cross-office Diversity Committee with responsibility for supporting and enhancing our firm culture.  Our committee has helped coordinate and lead a number of efforts to advance diversity within our firm and the community. Affinity groups at the firm serve as support networks for attorneys of color; women lawyers; and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender attorneys.

o   We are committed to working with our clients as they pursue the common goal of a professional workplace where opportunity is available to all.

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