viatical settlement
n. An insurance settlement paid to an “investor“ who holds a life insurance policy purchased at a discount from a dying policyholder.

Example Citations:
In a Wall Street response to the Aids epidemic, American investors have in recent years been buying Aids patients’ discounted life insurance policies, taking over the premium payments and netting the policies’ full face value when the sellers die. Since the financial return of the investor is inversely related to the longevity of the seller, these deals, known as viatical settlements, are inherently ghoulish.
—Stephen Rae, “Die, damn you — I‘ve got money on it,” The Independent (London), August 2, 1998

At first glance, it seems like a good deal all around. The dying policyholder gains access to cash while he can still enjoy it, and the investor turns a handsome profit. This principle of mutual benefit underlies the viatical settlement industry, which arose as the aids epidemic of the 1980s met the market fever of the 1990s. (“Viatical” comes from the Latin term for money and provisions supplied Roman officials setting out on a journey.)
—Michael J. Sandel, “You bet your life,” The New Republic, September 7, 1998

Earliest Citation:
In 1989 a new industry, the “viatical settlements”, or “living benefits”, industry emerged.
Life & Health Insurance Sales, February 8, 1991

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