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It’s All in the Details

Being a long-term care specialist takes education, solid systems and the ability to be there for clients when the time comes.

By Lucretia DiSanto Jones

Nancy Morith, CLU, CSA, LTCP, says long-term care insurance (LTCI) doesn’t have to be a dreadful subject to discuss with clients and prospects, and advisors don’t need to resort to scare tactics to be successful in this market.

Morith, president of Princeton, N.J.-based NP Morith Inc., specializes in long-term care planning, consulting and insurance brokerage. She recently shared her thoughts about selling LTCI with Describe the typical LTCI client.
Morith: That certainly has changed over the years. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the typical client was in his mid- to late 70s. Today’s typical client is in his mid 50s. My average client is a little under 57.Those in their 50s are dealing with the issue with their parents, so they’re seeing the reality of it. They can’t deny that if they don’t plan, they won’t have the options they want.

“To become a long-term care insurance professional, you have to do the trench work.”
— Nancy Morith, Morith Inc. You are an LTCI specialist. Do you think advisors should focus solely on LTCI?
Morith: If that’s where their passions lie, yes, because the financial piece of long-term care planning is a specialty.

To become a long-term care professional, you have to do the trench work, get a designation, go to school, make sure you’re there for the follow-up with clients. I talk about the business as a specialty because you’ve got to understand what LTC planning is, what the goals are and how much care costs in your area. You must also understand public sources, other private sources (reverse mortgages, annuities with long-term care riders, etc.), and you really have to have an in-depth understanding of the long-term care product. This means you must read and learn the contracts. How should an advisor organize his practice to be successful in selling LTCI?
Morith: One, he has to have a system for handling calls of inquiry, so that they don’t fall through the cracks. We have a very nonintrusive system. We don’t call. We mail postcards, send follow-up letters and keep clients informed through newsletters throughout the year. There has to be a good compromise between being available and becoming a pest. An advisor should never want to become a pest or he will lose people.

Two, he needs to find a way to generate leads that is comfortable for him. Direct mail may not be comfortable. Cold calling may not be comfortable. Do seminars, write a column for a weekly paper or network. We network with other professionals who work with elder-care issues.

Three, if he has made the commitment to do this, he has to be there—whether it’s for just a review of coverage or at claim time. How should a sale be kick-started?
Morith: It should be structured to raise awareness of LTCI. I like doing it through educational seminars. It’s the most time- and cost-effective way to do it, or through a letter for existing clients of other products. If someone stops in or calls, we send that person articles or an LTC and LTCI primer that I’ve written.

After he has read the primer, he must return the health history that’s in it, because before we sit down, we want to know his health history. Is he insurable? We need to have that information to know where we’re going with him. Sending the primer makes him think a little about his health. When I get it, I can go into my research mode. I call to thank him and probe him if necessary. If he is still hedging, I send a sample plan. I ask him to do all this at home so he can discuss it with his family, or at least his spouse.

When he does come in, you start talking about his likes, dislikes and goals. You’re getting an idea of what he wants. LTCI doesn’t have to be a dreadful subject, and you don’t have to come across with scare tactics. What makes people buy LTCI?
Morith: We can always deny a lot about our own health. It’s when something happens to someone we love or to our neighbor that we start to pay attention and think that maybe we ought to do something. That’s when people buy.

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