Executive Life Insurance Co.'s $1.93 billion of municipal's guaranteed investment contracts are insurance policies with the same claim on the bankrupt insurer's assets as pension GICs and annuitants, Judge Kurt Lewin decided Friday.

The decision greatly relieved the municipal and life insurance markets by legitimizing an investment product routinely used throughout the 1980s. John Garamendi, California's insurance commissioner, argued unsuccessfully that the contracts should be considered outright loans, which would have doomed the GIC claimants to 100% losses.

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