Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gene Simmons: Life Insurance Salesman

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Would you buy life insurance from a man who dresses in spandex and coughs up blood?

Gene Simmons has embraced many personas over the years: The demonic, fire-breathing bass player for legendary rockers KISS. A rabid merchandiser who oversees an empire built on his band's merchandise, ranging from T-shirts to designer coffins. The star of a reality series, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, gearing up for its seventh season on the A&E network.

Gene Simmons, life insurance salesman.

His latest venture is helping sell life insurance to high-net-worth individuals.

Simmons spoke to TheStreet recently as he packed for a trip to Israel being filmed for his TV show. It is the first time he has returned to his homeland since -- as a young man named Chaim Witz, the son of an Auschwitz death camp survivor -- his family migrated to Queens, N.Y., in search of a better life.
The night before the trip to Israel, KISS played their usual set of hits, Detroit Rock City, Love Gun and Stutter among them, at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Once upon a time, backstage post-concert might have been a bacchanalia; that night it was a client meeting.

Simmons was schmoozing for Cool Springs Life Equity Strategy, a Franklin, Tenn.-based firm he helped found a year ago. The firm specializes in providing life insurance for the rich in, it claims, a very financially advantaged way.

Focusing on those with assets of $20 million or more, Cool Springs facilitates loans that allow clients to procure high-value life insurance policies with little or no money upfront. The loan, which covers premiums, can be paid incrementally or settled from the ultimate payout. The firm says this approach helps minimizes estate taxes.

Some in the industry cast a skeptical, if not critical, eye on the concept of premium financing, which other firms and insurance companies have offered over the years. Cool Springs says its strategy will succeed because the cost of borrowing and commissions are low for their affluent clients. The interest rate is flat, based upon the London Interbank Offered Rate. Clients have the option to fix the interest rate for a term ranging from one to 30 years or allow it to fluctuate as frequently as every week.