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As Clients Age

LTCI is an important product for older clients and should be sold differently than traditional life products.

By Donald Ray Haas, CLU, ChFC, CFP, MSFS, RFC

As a successful insurance agent, most likely you have sold long-term disability income insurance to your clients and prospects. As your client and prospect base ages, however, you will need to consider adding long-term care insurance (LTCI) to your product portfolio. This will allow you to better serve these clients and remain competitive in the marketplace.

To sell more LTCI, stop thinking and talking about insurance—and stop comparing policy features. A better selling strategy is to begin a focused conversation about long-term care needs and the options available to satisfy those potential needs. Remain upbeat at all times and position yourself as a problem solver and financial expert. Avoid instilling gloom and doom in your clients and prospects; this may be a turnoff and may cause them to procrastinate or avoid doing anything.

Focus on need
I learned this strategy in part while training to become a Registered Financial Gerontologist. I was surprised at the course content specific to long-term care issues; I was halfway through the material before insurance was even mentioned.

When the term “long-term care” came up, I immediately thought insurance. However, that was not what was being discussed at all. Instead, the subject matter dealt with the problems facing elderly individuals—problems like finding or affording someone to assist them with the most common, daily-living tasks.

Simply put, the focus was all about people. And when it comes to LTCI, most potential candidates are the leading edge of Baby Boomers and seniors. These clients do not like to be told, do not like to be sold and do not like authority. Therefore, talk about long-term care situations, but be careful not to be too frightening or negative. Instead, offer these targeted clients understanding, straightforward information and gentle advice.

When I was a young life insurance agent, I would back up the hearse, figuratively speaking, to my clients’ kitchen doors in order to draw their attention to the need for insurance. While fear selling may have been marginally persuasive 40 to 50 years ago, it is not convincing today. What's more, I would argue that an educated client is your best customer—because you will earn that client's trust, and he will come back to you for more as his family and business needs change over time.

Know your LTCI client
Learn about the various things that happen to people as they age. Talk with your clients and prospects about their personal family histories. Find out about the histories of their friends’ parents; this provides additional background to understanding their concerns. Also, other concerns—and prospects—are uncovered by asking about their families' experiences with disability, stroke, depression and Alzheimer’s Disease.

I spoke with LTCI specialist Ellen Taylor Atkins of North Carolina about what Boomer and senior prospects are ideal LTCI targets. She says that single females are the most at risk for needing long-term care. Another significant prospect group is high-net-worth individuals who need to protect their substantial assets. These wealthy individuals have usually done comprehensive estate planning, and they purchase LTCI to avoid disrupting these planned distributions. Atkins has also found that many Boomers are very concerned about their parents’ ability to finance long-term care and have a special concern for a healthy parent’s quality of life should the other parent have a long stay in a nursing home.

Ask tough questions
In order to get my clients to think seriously about this issue and to take action before it becomes cost prohibitive, I ask them these key questions about how they plan to pay for future long-term care expenses:

  • Do they have extensive wealth that they do not mind using to pay for long-term care expenses?
  • Do they have wealthy parents who they know will leave a considerable amount of money for them?
  • Do they know they will win a lottery?
  • Do they know now that they or someone in their family will never require long-term care in their lifetime?
  • Will their parents need long-term care help?

These are loaded questions, indeed, but they are meant to get clients seriously thinking about “securing their financial future.” Or better said, concerned about “securing their base.”

Donald Ray Haas, CLU, ChFC, CFP, MSFS, RFC, of Southfield, Mich., has been an insurance agent and financial consultant for more than 47 years. Author of Money Forever: How to Make Your Money Last As Long As You Do, Haas can be reached at 248-213-0101 or at Donaldhaas@aol.com.


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