Taking The Lead

I’ve just returned from our industry’s professional annual gathering which I believe represents our faithful and permanent commitment to keep trying. The ILTCI 2023 was in my humble opinion a smashing success. In no particular order of importance an inventory of why may have merit in your forward thinking, planning and prioritizing:

  • It was the largest attendance in years with almost 1000 stakeholders who remain concerned about the insurance care conundrum.
  • It was a diverse professional assemblage, grounded again by the avatars of good math.
  • The progression of claim efficiency and quality of service truly benefiting by the evolution of technology was clearly on display. Gains were evident in virtual underwriting and there were even successful robotics teetering on the edge of Artificial Intelligence advancements.
  • There were multiple vendors helping to define the meaning and parameters of what should be the true Holy Grail–efficient humanized quality managed care and claim adjudication.
  • But the best clues to predict a better future were all the eager bright shiny faces attending every session. A third of those present were there for the first time and over half had been attending for less than three years. Only one percent had been in attendance for 20+ years.

Helping to represent that one percent, my partner Barry Fisher and myself had been asked by the meeting chair Steve Schoonveld to reminisce about our vast, perhaps simply lengthy, experience to provide what could best be described as comic relief. Steve asked us to help conclude the meeting by being humorous and optimistic. As this was a large public forum we were asked to also remain non-denominational, non-sectarian, apolitical and keep it under 20 minutes.

Interestingly, as insurance company consultants for many years, we are used to being asked the impossible and to come in under budget.

We began by proclaiming we were going to attempt to explain two of the greatest mysteries of our little corner of the insurance marketing universe. First: Why my partner continues to accuse me of writing the same column month after month for almost 20 years. Second: How two clearly diverse Class A personalities have been able to work successfully together for this long. Actually the answer to both rhetorical questions is the same. We are simply unable to give up our quest to understand, “Why in the Hell can’t we get this right?”

We began by suggesting, as I have repeatedly in this column, that we didn’t just miss the side of the barn but that we may have been aiming at the wrong barn. We have continued to make this about financial indemnification. In my humble opinion it is about who and under what circumstances the claim journey will be managed. I have suggested many times in this column that sales begin with those who have been touched by the caregiving angel. It is a predisposition to buy that gives sales success any hope of self analysis. My partner added that our market was never given enough time to establish itself in the pantheon of mandatory risk abatement vehicles. That consumers have yet to understand their personal responsibility. That with the incessant background noise of rising premium the market abandoned the middle class buyer that the product was originally designed to serve.

We reminded the audience that producers have clearly identified this as the most difficult of insurance sales yet, frankly, the product manufacturers of this world have never banded together to publicly support this crusade.

It was pointed out that many agents have retired from the field of battle and that fresh troops may not be coming from the plethora of financial advisors/planners who seem to have moved insurance transactions to the caboose.

It was impossible to not reflect on the past and to some extent we may just have been a couple of curmudgeonly aging rock stars brought out to entertain the troops.

There was laughter and applause perhaps not from our discourse but from our longevity. The hard truth is the answer to a brighter future was in that room. We knew it and they knew it.

Other than that we all had no opinion on the subject.

Ronald R. Hagelman, CLTC, CSA, LTCP, has been a teacher, cattle rancher, agent, brokerage general agent, corporate consultant and home office executive. As a consultant he has created numerous individual and group insurance products.

A nationally recognized motivational speaker, Hagelman has served on the LIMRA, Society of Actuaries, and ILTCI committees. He is past president of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance and continues to work with LTCI company advisory boards. He remains a contributing “friend” of the SOA LTCI Section Council and the SOA Future of LTCI committee. Hagelman and his partner Barry J. Fisher are principles of Ice Floe Consulting, providing consulting services for Chronic Illness/LTC product development and brokerage distribution strategies.

Hagelman can be reached at Ice Floe Consulting, 156 N. Solms Rd., New Braunfels, TX 78132 Telephone: 830-620-4066. Email: ron@icefloeconsulting.com.