Happy Sweet 16!
November marks the 16th anniversary of National Long-Term Care Awareness Month, a tradition my group, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, established in 2001. And, like all teenagers, the world of long-term care insurance has and is experiencing hormonal changes.
Awareness Month is an appropriate time to take a quick look back and briefly ponder the future of an industry that is in the midst of what I call an ongoing evolution of markets, products and distribution.
Back in 2001 yearly sales of traditional long-term care insurance (LTCi) policies were reaching lofty numbers, as over 700,000 individuals purchased new coverage. Few linked-benefit products were available or sold.
For 2017, our projection is that 70,000 traditional LTCi policies will be sold, and we'd estimate some 400,000 to 450,000 linked-benefit products that offer some form of LTCi payout will be purchased. The actual number could be higher.
This is all part of the evolution the industries, products and consumer preferences go through. What hasn't changed are these three factors:
Few Americans have any formal plan in place to address the very real risk of needing some long-term car.
There are no likely government solutions on the horizon.
The onus of creating awareness still falls on insurance agents and financial professionals.
The good news is that teenage years eventually pass and this will occur in our industry as well. Young adulthood will likely look different than today. I forecast more options available including the growth of short-term care insurance options that can address the cost concerns and the significant number of individuals unable to health qualify for traditional LTCi.
Technology will also play an increasing role as it already has for so many other segments of the insurance and financial world. Successful growth for the industry will require insurance companies committed to innovation and efforts to communicate directly with end-buyers. For insurance agents adaptation to changing trends -from consumer preferences to use of technology will be paramount.
I believe we'll look back (hopefully soon) and congratulate ourselves for surviving the teenage years. Happy Long-Term Care Awareness Month everyone -let's get to work.
—Read AXA, OneAmerica Expand Long-Term Care Hybrid Efforts on ThinkAdvisor.