For years I’ve been saying, “There has never been a better time to be in the long-term care planning busines than today.”
I still believe that, even with a growing number of producers shying away from this discussion with their prospects, for the most part in response to all of the uncertainty surrounding the traditional long-term care insurance market. Making matters worse, large premium increases and carriers leaving the business have created a cloud of betrayal over the producer.
Here’s the paradox: Even as producers avoid the conversation, consumers are more eager than ever to engage in it. This has created an enormous and ever-growing gap that presents a phenomenal opportunity for advisors who decide to be proactive, create marketing strategies and, most importantly, become an expert about every solution available on the market today. It comes down to deciding whether to put more time into learning about the different solutions or strategically aligning with a specialist.
In either case, it is necessary for our clients to know about all the products that are available today to help protect their future.
Perhaps the most critical step is to pull away from the traditional long-term care insurance sale and create a simpler way to present the various product solutions. As an industry, we need to transition to a new way of thinking, with every solution and recommendation being driven by client needs.
If producers are able to present an array of potential insurance solutions, the process can become more "investment-centric" and go beyond the typical insurance product process. And by “investment,” I don’t mean a return. It’s more about presenting each product as having a different risk and reward, value proposition, cost structure and overall fit into the client’s total financial picture.
Let’s look at the typical consumer’s objections to traditional long-term care insurance: What if I never use it? What if my premium goes up? By being prepared to discuss the risk and reward proposition of each product, it’s possible to shift the mindset from the confines of a single product solution to one of greater choice. The past 5 to 10 years have taught us about the significant risks associated with not having a traditional non-cancellable product – which is something that, as an industry, should have figured more into the discussion.
Today we can easily handle those objections with various product solutions. In the end, traditional long-term care insurance might be the perfect solution based on a prospect’s risk tolerance, but it might not.
Ultimately, we need to be in the business of long-term care planning rather than selling long-term care insurance. I know a producer understands this concept when I ask, “If traditional long-term care insurance never existed, are you, as an advisor, exempt from helping your clients plan for long-term care?” The answer is always “no.”
Some prospects may not be able to afford the solution they want; others may not be able to purchase a product because of their health; but everyone, no matter their economic circumstances, should be having a conversation with their loved ones about long-term care.
It’s our job to enable this difficult discussion. That’s the future of our business – empowering our clients to make long-term care choices – and it has never been better.