All any good salesperson needs is a lead-in conversation—one that is bright, perceptive, insightful, thought-provoking and basically nonthreatening. There is a legend in our business of the agent who made MDRT just riding an elevator in a large office building. He had only a few minutes to make his points and then asked for an opportunity to elaborate.
Optimism remains our life blood. In LIMRA’s “LTCI: An Industry Reflects 2009,”1 the top three reasons for optimism were (1) demographics, (2) increasing consumer awareness, and (3) opportunities at the worksite. The boomer age wave is upon us. Consumer awareness—formed from financial uncertainty and caregiving distress—is eating away at denial. Worksite sales—fueled by the need for alternative cost-effective benefits and liberalized underwriting concessions—continues to outpace the relative growth of individual sales.
Now, what should you say to connect to these growing sales? First, you must ask (if necessary ask over and over again):
Do you have your LTC insurance protection yet?
Every planning conversation must include the identification of retirement dollars. You must end the misperception that somehow LTC insurance is an optional expense. There is no choice. Your client must either take action to protect himself and his family or accept the responsibility if he does not.
You must speak firmly of the inevitable nature of the risk: You will get older, your health will change, and you will need care. Care is very expensive and it will be even more expensive when you need it.
I begin every employee enrollment meeting by telling the audience that my daughter’s favorite movie was The Lion King. At the core of this presentation is the circle of life concept. We enter this world dependent on others and the great and vast majority of us will leave it exactly the same way.
For potential clients who are by nature more analytical, operating on the assumption that you would not even presume to sell LTC insurance to others if you did not already own your own policy, tell them: You know, I had a $1 million problem. Do you? Now stop and do some fast math explaining current annual cost, current typical claim durations and what inflation does to that cost in 30 years.
Next, ask the obvious: Where will the money come from? Someone must pay! You, the government (with you as a welfare recipient), or insurance.
The all-time favorite is of course to go fishing for the caregiver connection. Ask these probing outcome questions:
• Who will care for you?
• Whose life have you chosen to disrupt?
• Which family member will lift you, dress you, bathe you and change you?
A conversation about the changes in the law is always a good place to start. Begin this conversation with a neutral informational question: Did you know that the law has changed and your assets are now at risk? Next, discuss the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 in a dispassionate academic manner, explaining the change in the transfer of assets regulations. This conversation may also then lead logically to an explanation of state partnership plans. Most are still not aware of the benefits of partnership plan ownership. This is also an excellent time to tap into resentment of government sponsored asset recovery. (I’m sure you don’t want the state to sell your home to pay your Medicaid bill.) The partnership sale is very straightforward:
• What is it in your life that you care enough about to protect from the state?
• Is there any part of your legacy that you wish to leave to your children and grandchildren?
I have some new favorites as well. The Pension Protection Act and the availability of favorably priced and underwritten combo life and annuity products leads directly to these questions:
• Does your life or annuity policy pay for long term care if needed?
• If I could show you how to protect your assets and triple your benefit values—if needed for long term care—without having to ask for new premium, could we at least visit?
And the new question that I now work with every day is based on modified guarantee issue thresholds as low as three lives: Where do you work?
With a sufficient number of lives, almost everyone actively at work, regardless of underwriting status, is eligible for LTC insurance coverage!
To all those veterans still actively involved in the struggle, as well as all those recently re-enlisted or newly recruited, please help yourself to this verbal arsenal. My hope is that it will immediately grab your client’s attention and begin the journey that we know will alleviate an enormous burden for them and all their loved ones.
1. “LTCI: An Industry Reflects,” Jennifer L. Douglas, 2009. Over 80 executives representing insurers, reinsurers, producers and consultants provided LIMRA with their thoughts, insights and opinions as to the state of the long term care insurance industry, as well as with their predictions for where they see the market heading.