How I’ve Changed My LTC Insurance Practice

What are changes that some of the most successful LTC insurance agents have made to put them on more solid footing than their competitors?

As you know, the LTC insurance business has been, well, to put it nicely, interesting lately! I talk with LTC insurance agents almost every day and, thus, have a unique seat from which to hear the hopes and dreams, the ups and downs of many agents.

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that at one end of the spectrum there are agents who are panicked and floundering. Yet other agents have made business decisions that have left them less vulnerable to the changes we are all witnessing. In these conversations, I heard their stories. Among other changes, they have added new product lines, entered into new strategic relationships, added new carriers, diversified their prospecting methods, etc.

Based on these conversations, I got an idea. Wouldn’t it be interesting to compile the insights of LTC insurance agents who are riding out this (latest) storm? After “knocking” on a few doors, not only did several agents agree to be interviewed, but the interviews were so meaty, there was too much for one article! All were asked the same question, which they could interpret how they wished: How have I changed my LTC insurance business to reposition for future success?

In a time of uncertainty, I learned one thing for certain: LTC insurance specialists are eager to share with their colleagues in an effort to help others succeed in their businesses and cover more people for the risk of LTC.

Rachel Faiga

Rachel Faiga is the founder of Long-Term Planning Associates, LLC, a specialty insurance brokerage firm located in Fairfield, CT. She has been consistently ranked in the top echelon of LTC insurance agents by the American Association of LTC Insurance, including the top multi-life agent in 2008 and overall top agent nationwide in 2007. She has sold only LTC insurance for 24 years.

How I’ve changed my LTCI business to reposition for future success:

 • I make a deliberate decision to emphasize my work with high-end referral sources. They play a big part in the selection of who their clients choose to place their business. I reach out to referral sources more often—to me, the referral source is a golden opportunity. More and more people are getting multiple opinions prior to meeting with me, and having a trusted advisor recommend me is very powerful.

 • I invest a significant amount of time and energy educating referral sources. Some insurance planners are still giving flawed advice regarding LTC insurance. It’s not that they are unscrupulous, they just don’t have the knowledge of all the options and differences. When I educate referral sources, it helps their clients, this industry, and also positions me for future referrals. Poor advice really upsets me, and I feel a personal responsibility to help correct it.

 • I’m selling differently than in the past. After 24 years in the business, I now strongly feel that something is better than nothing if the client understands what he is buying. For example, if someone wants $100 a day, that’s not going to cover a nursing home or an assisted living facility, but it may cover a short shift for someone who wants to give the family respite. Fifty dollars in daily benefit can provide a half-day of adult day care, which allows everyone to take a deep breather and take care of the things they have to. The small policies can make all the difference in the world to family caregiving.

Because of repricing, the days of $400/daily benefit, unlimited benefit period and 5 percent compound inflation are long gone.

Combo products are also playing a bigger role in my practice.

When I work with someone now, my goal is for them to walk away smarter, educated about LTC insurance, and having made a clear decision one way or the other that is right for them. I want to discover their goals, their finances, their hopes and their fears—and focus them on the primary goal in regard to LTCI planning.

 • I talk about the elephant in the room. Everyone is interested in rate increases. Many agents avoid the topic altogether because it makes people uncomfortable. In light of recent changes, I’m much more careful to share with clients what is happening in the industry, and talk about how things are changing constantly. My sincere messaging to them is this: It’s important to look into LTC insurance now, as opposed to waiting. I feel they need to investigate it and make an educated decision about whether it is or is not appropriate for them, based on the knowledge they get through the education. If they decide to purchase long term care insurance, they expect rate changes and try to go with a strong carrier with good benefits.

 • I now assume that every case that comes in the door is also talking with other sources or agents. Even when referred to me, clients generally have two or three other sources of information on LTC insurance. It might be from an association, a group at work, or they’ve spoken to friends. They almost always have someone else.

If I win a case, I believe that is generally based on a comfort level they have with the educational process I provide and the way I do business, which is a non-pressure environment. If I’m looking at someone else’s proposal or a newly issued policy, I try not to bad-mouth my competition in any way, but direct the buyer toward options and benefits I feel are more critical to him. I say things like: “There’s nothing wrong with this product…I might do this differently” (and then explain what and why). My office provides service, service, service. It permeates every contact and conversation.

 • I do a lot of pro bono work. I put myself out there as a source that advisors and professionals—anyone—can come to me with questions. I find that, for example, when people complain that a claim isn’t paid, it’s often because the person doesn’t know—or forgot—what the policy is designed to cover. Especially with 90-day certifications.

People need to understand what they are buying. But even so, by the time they’re on claim, you are often dealing with loved ones who weren’t privy to the original conversations and they need to be educated and helped along in the process.

Financial planners and other professional referral sources rely on me to do policy reviews and advise clients about their LTC insurance. They know I’m  not getting paid for that, but it positions me for future referrals, too. I help a lot of planners out. I received three referrals from planners today—that’s good!

 • I’ve invested in technology and my training. I’ve worked extensively on my presence online, webinars, screen share—to make it easier for people to work with me. Sometimes spouses don’t see each other until 9 pm during the week. I need to be easy to work with, and that means being available by alternative methods, not just the in-person meetings.

Joseph Imparato

Joseph P. Imparato, CEBS, CLU, ChFC, CLTC, is a long term care insurance specialist and is a leading expert in worksite implementation for the education market. He is the managing director at Tucker & Shepley Benefits and Insurance, Ltd., a national provider of worksite long term care insurance. Prior to becoming an LTC insurance specialist, he was in senior management with TIAA-CREF, New York Life, Rogers Benefits Group, and Stop Loss Insurance Brokers.

How I’ve changed my LTCI business to reposition for future success:

 • I hired a business coach/strategist. As I look into the future, I see the need to adapt my LTC insurance business to deal with fewer carriers, higher premiums and a lot of politics. To help mitigate these changes, I hired a business coach/strategist, who has helped me “refocus” on a core demographic for prospecting. We are looking to get my message out to that audience. The goal is to become the number one go-to person/company for LTC insurance. To achieve such “refocus” we examined everything from our branding, website and logo to methods of communicating.

We have created a marketing series to stay in touch with those who did not buy LTC insurance initially. We use media such as YouTube, Google search and blogging. There will be more effort to get presence in focused trade publications and press releases. This has been a major focus for the last several months, and we plan to complete all of this in a few more months. It is costing us time and money, but it is a fraction of the potential that is out there.

 • I affiliated myself with the right MGA for my business. I am a worksite marketing/multi-life producer. My company writes very little individual business. We deal with small groups to large companies with thousands of employees. We use an MGA for our back-office support, and their focus is our focus: worksite/multi-life sales. They provide us with a turn-key multi-life proposal/enrollment system with processes and systems that make enrolling groups extremely efficient. Along with materials, the MGA provides us with staff support to write and maintain our LTC insurance book of business. They help present and package our proposals, along with providing presentation and material support. We could not do what we do without them.

 • I have learned to sell remotely. We have also changed our approach from the in-person sale to email, telephone or online screen share. We cover a lot of territory, and with today’s economics and social trends, in-person sales are not always the way to conduct business. People want the ability to deal with producers at their convenience, from the comfort of their office or home. Age plays no role as to who wants us to call them by phone or use join/me for online screen share. Young or old, people will want to do things differently than in the past. I am now ready to accommodate that.

 • I doubled down and recommitted. Our refocus strategy began with the question: “Should we stay focused on long term care insurance—or not?” When all was said and done, the number one reason for staying focused on LTC insurance was that the issues of long term care are not going away. Those producers who have committed to providing people with a plan to deal with the emotional, physical and financial issues of extended care will succeed.

This turbulent time in the LTC insurance industry is going to send a lot of producers packing, and there will be fewer producers left. I believe committed producers will be in demand and easily recognized as such.

Curt Horowitz

For nearly 15 years, Curt Horowitz, founder and president of LTC Connects, has been marketing LTC insurance. His agency is a general agency with Master Care Solutions, Inc. He has spent the past several years developing a process by which employees and consumers can gather information quickly and easily through an interactive phone and Internet consultation.

How I’ve changed my LTCI business to reposition for future success:

 • I made the decision to focus one-third of my time on the workplace market about a year and a half ago. Because of how difficult individual underwriting has become, I’m putting more time into the workplace where modified guaranteed issue and simplified issue are available. I’m looking for opportunities to talk to benefit brokers and employers about providing an educational platform where their employees can feel safe and secure while receiving professional LTC insurance advice.

All of us have to deal with our clients being declined—it’s just part of our business. Voluntary or employer-paid LTC insurance is an easier process and minimizes declinations. Additionally, employees will have a feeling of trust and respect if you are endorsed by the head of human resources or the president of the company. The other key factor is that simplified or modified guaranteed underwriting is only available for up to 90 days, so it creates a sense of urgency.

Mike Skiens, president of Master Care Solutions, has partnered with me on this effort from the start. Our strategy in opening up workplace cases has been focusing on the development of relationships with centers of influence within a company, such as their benefits broker or director of human resources.

In terms of which companies to target, I would start by focusing on the smaller employers, those with 10 to 100 employees, because they are able to make decisions quicker than larger ones. Don’t ignore or discount larger companies; however, they should be viewed as long term opportunities that may take a year or more to come to fruition.

 • I’ve identified and developed five competencies. In our business, you need leads. You need to have someone to tell your story to, otherwise you might as well go to Nordstrom, Inc. and sell shoes. You just can’t do one thing. It’s like in baseball. There are very few five-tool baseball players—those who excel at hitting for average, hitting for power, base running, throwing and fielding.

In our business you need to be a five-tool LTC expert: developing employer market, developing individual market, being a marketer, being a salesperson, and being able to cultivate relationships with professionals.

By Marliee Driscoll for November 2012 issue of Broker World Magazine.  Marilee  Driscoll is the  author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Long-term Care Planning,” works with the LTC insurance and LTC caregiving industries as a public speaker and marketing consultant.

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