Interest rates are your enemy. Managers of Medicaid nursing home benefits programs who don't have to worry about financial sustainability (today) are your enemy. And, of course, consumer ignorance and denial are your enemies.
They have dried up or covered the easiest-to-find rivers of private LTCI leads.
Insurers have had to increase premiums to cope with the shift in the LTCI sales environment. Higher rates reduce the percentage of Americans who can afford to pay for LTCI coverage without cutting down on use of products such as medicine, and food. Insurers have also had to tighten underwriting standards.
Today, the ideal long-term care (LTC) planning prospect is a healthy 21-year-old married medical doctor (and marathon runner), with two healthy parents, four healthy grandparents, and eight healthy great-grandparents, who understands why LTC planning is so important -- but has never had a blood relative who ever used long-term care.
See also: 5 steps to deal with LTCI declines.
Consumers who know what private LTCI is, can afford it, and can get through underwriting may think, based on current news reports, that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will set up a nifty Medicare-Medicaid LTC program. Maybe run by robots, Comcast or Google, or Google Comcast robots. (After, of course, the program managers address the reality that the programs were never , ever financially sustainable and working-age adults have no spare cash society can use to pay for their elders' Google Comcast LTC robots.)
You may have adapted by selling more short-term care insurance products, and more life-LTC and annuity-LTC hybrids. But you may still have to talk to more people to find motivated, qualified prospects.
Consider the cactus. It faces a shortage of water, but it also benefits from a moat of heat and sand. The heat and sand drive most competitors away and let it enjoy the water it can find in peace. Maybe the LTC planners who get through the current business climate shift will grow taller, grow tougher, and produce the business equivalent of tequila.
Think about something else: Even in 2013, when some insurers were intentionally keeping LTCI sales low, five of the 15 carriers in the market that LIMRA tracks managed to increase their LTCI sales by 10 percent or more.
Here are five ideas about places the tougher LTC planning specialists can look for prospects while weaker competitors head for the swamps.
1. PTA events.
Parents of young children have already been thinking about life insurance, and probably at least a little about disability insurance. Older parents may recognize that they already are aging out of the very best rate categories.
If they're broke, they're broke. But, if parents are picking up the children with Volvos and Subarus at the end of the day, and a high percentage of the children have gone on ski trips and trips to attractions like Disney World, the odds that some of the parents are well-equipped to pay for LTCI, if they understand the need for it, may be high.
See also: Working Out Your Profitable Future.
2. Chess tournaments.
People who play chess know how to think more than one ahead. Maybe dogged LTC planners can persuade them to think ahead about their own lives. The same principle may apply to the people involved in any other activity that involves a substantial level of strategic thinking, whether that's playing chess, poker or blackjack. Warren Buffett, for example, is famous for selling some of the first shares of Berkshire Hathaway to his bridge partners, and giving them a rather comfortable retirement.
See also: How to sell LTCI today.
3. Restaurants on Mother’s Day and Father's Day.
The older parents with the walkers have either made their LTC plans or live at the whim of fate. The adult sons and daughters may be in perfect health, and unusually conscious of the point that time is fleeting. It's not a day to sell hard, but it might be a good day to have a rack of brochures by the waiting area up front.
See also: Genworth Facebook Page Attracts 12,000 Fans.
4. Kickstarter parties.
The would-be entrepreneurs may not have the means to pay for LTCI today, but they might later, and they might be comfortable enough with thinking about the future of technologies, industries and markets to think about their own long-term business plan.
Certainly, some of the guests may have a combination of a forward-looking way of thinking and cash to spend.
5. Your next family gathering -- and your mirror.
New agents often complain bitterly on Internet message boards about a common agent training approach: Insurers requiring agents to try to sell life insurance to their friends and relatives.
The “family first” approach may be a noble, highly practical idea, especially in the LTCI market.
If you have the knowledge to tell your relatives about LTC planning, and don’t, and they end up needing short-term care or long-term care without knowing what hit them – or what products they could have bought to keep What from hitting them – you’ll feel awful.
You can’t force your relatives to insure themselves against LTC risk, but at least you can make sure they understand that private LTCI insurance and other planning vehicles are available.
See also: 5 secrets of a top-performing advisor.