NAIFA’s CEO, Kevin Mayeux, moderated the inaugural session of the NAIFA LECP IMPACT WEEK: LTC. Our guests included executive leaders: Troy Anderson, president and national sales manager Life Insurance, Nationwide; Dennis Martin, president Individual Life and Financial Services, OneAmerica; and, Bill Nash, SVP head of MoneyGuard and Strategic Partners of the Future at Lincoln Financial Distributors.
The extended and long term care industry is experiencing an evolution. The LECP IMPACT WEEK: LTC inaugural session invited executive leadership to share some perspectives about what 2021 may hold for extended and long term care carriers, distributors, and customers. Those on the front lines (or better said, virtual lines these days) and consumers are experiencing a rude wake-up call forced upon everyone by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dennis Martin urges advisors to capitalize on consumer’s escalated awareness of the importance of the quality of care. Care Solutions University at OneAmerica offers product training but, more importantly, also offers training on starting the conversation and introducing it into a discussion with an emphasis on advice followed by a call to action.
Bill Nash points out that the emergence of widespread awareness about quality of care and adoption of on-line sales is effectively widening the potential sales pool by removing “miles and distance” from the equation. Hawaii and Maine, whether consumers or advisors looking for ideas and education, can simultaneously join a virtual call—virtually eliminating how many hours it might have previously taken to cover that distance! Concern over lost time spent in traffic jams (Hello, NYC and LA!) for advisors and consumers alike is a barrier that has been removed.
Troy Anderson remarked that the prolonged low interest rates will probably cause more carriers to move to variable product models. Most insurers find themselves facing many of the same challenges, be it low interest rates, antiquated technology, or other pressures.
Dennis Martin sees this as an opportunity for the industry, as a whole, to move forward. “We’re at a unique moment in time where we understand that all stakeholders—carriers, distribution partners, and end consumers—are finding themselves having to adapt to change all at the same time,” says Martin. “This has shaped trends in a way we couldn’t have imagined 12 months ago and created opportunities to accelerate needed changes for the industry.”
Kevin Mayeux asked, “When it comes to distribution, not every advisor specializes in long term care products. But many of them should consider it as part of their product offering. What are you doing to better help educate the larger distribution stream about the need to bring forward the issue?”
Bill Nash mentioned that survey responses place long term or extended care concerns as a top consumer concern but advisors still hesitate to bring the topic up. So, there is a disconnect. Education is a big part of it. He suggests helping agents start the conversation by arming them with the tools and questions to ask. He also said Lincoln Financial Group is working with distribution to recognize that now is the time to think differently. Previously, there was a lack of a “triggering” event. Other product lines have birthdays, anniversaries, marriages, births, mortgages, etc., but long term care had to wait for COVID-19 to provide a national, if not a global, trigger. His firm is working with their distribution partners to help them see the pandemic as a catalyst to bring long term care into all conversations about retirement planning. “Historically it has been rare for somebody to wake up thinking about long term care planning,” Nash said. “However, recently more people have had personal experiences and current events are shining a light on the need for long term care. As a result, we heard requests for more flexibility and product which has led to greater product innovation. That was the genesis for our creation of our new, first-of-its-kind variable, long term care product MoneyGuard Market Advantage which we are excited to launch this year.”
Troy Anderson of Nationwide suggested that insurers must move more comfortably into technological processing and e-delivery for both distribution and consumers to become more engaged.
All three participants addressed product innovation. The low interest environment is not the only factor, as Dennis Martin said, “Low interest rates have been around for a long time.” Technology opens up possibilities for simple processes but products may still need to include some complexity. Overall, now we have an opportunity to take an “outside in” view to reach out and become relevant to the advisors of the future.
One of the basic tenets of growing a business or industry, as Bill Nash points out, is making it easier to do business by creating products that agents and clients can understand by avoiding terminology that creates confusion and language that confounds specialists, non-specialists, and clients. Today’s consumer will do more if it means convenience and they can do it when it works with their timeline and schedule.
Another interesting exchange centered on what “value proposition” resonates with consumers. As Troy Anderson pointed out, “Price only matters in the absence of value.” Consumers have no idea what products should cost but we do know they don’t embrace dealing with lots of complexity. His suggestion is: Focus on what matters to them. What problem does it solve for them? While some consumers prefer guarantees, others, especially those who feel they are looking at a long horizon before accessing product benefits, are willing to take on more risk. Features that add value to what is important to them will differentiate one carrier from another.
Dennis Martin indicated that there is an opportunity to be responsive to advisors and make the process a better experience for the consumers by removing complexities that don’t lead consumers to a better understanding but instead confuse them. Processes and products will have to balance customization and flexibility with simplicity. As in any period of transformation, the industry will look to states for a more effective approval process.
Kevin Mayeux added that NAIFA is working with state commissioners to encourage them to update antiquated rules and modernize regulations so advisors can work more efficiently with product and technology advancements.
After so many years of the majority of advisors and agents distributing extended and long term care products face-to-face, insurers now have to devise ways to inspire industry growth without increasing risk while at the same time fostering efficient and simple ways to do business. From a technology standpoint, what was previously a “want to have” has now become a “must have.” Troy Anderson said, “Roadmaps that were scheduled for ‘down the road’ are being moved forward.”
Dennis Martin remarked that the pandemic has accelerated the need to adapt. “This crisis has caused us to face this problem with more clarity.” Those who understand risk management and insurance solutions are in a good space.
Bill Nash reminds us that opportunity abounds in Long Term Care 2.0, the “now” phase of extended and long term care.
As advisors and distributors, we know that people are looking for solutions that will be there for them down the road. They want stability and certainty. Only insurance can provide that peace of mind.
NAIFA’S CEO, Kevin Mayeux, wrapped up by asking the participants to “look into their crystal ball.” Don’t miss their responses and many other forward-looking insights covered in the session. Access of the recorded session is free of charge at lecp.naifa.org under the Events tab.