GE Long Term Care Insurance is taking its LTC sales strategy to television, and its enlisting the marketing prowess of Suze Orman to do it.
Thats Suze Orman, as in: the CFP who has written several New York Times best sellers including The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom; the insurance agent who now hosts a radio talk show named after her; and the financial advisor who currently serves as finance editor for CNBC, a GE-owned company.
GE Long Term Care, of San Rafael, Calif., is the LTC insurance division of General Electric Assurance Company, a member of GE Financial. The insurer has been selling LTC since 1974 and is a leading writer of the coverage.
Together, Orman and GE are marketing an existing fully-underwritten GE LTC that has been “packaged” to provide LTC benefits that Orman says are “essential.” Called Suzes Choice, it contains Ormans “specific recommendations” for the products personal benefit account, benefit period, daily benefit, inflation protection, and elimination period.
Why do it? For Orman, this is a chance to “bring out a product that will help people buy suitable LTC coverage.” For GE, it is an opportunity to reach a broader market. And both say that by “joining forces” they are combining two “trusted names in personal finance” to help consumers obtain LTC insurance.
Initially, the sales venture is concentrating on developing leads from Ormans appearances on the QVC cable-TV shopping channel, says Buck Stinson, president of GE Long Term Care Insurance.
In those appearances, she talks about LTC in general as well as the product. The first such show ran for several days in January, triggered 10,000 calls to QVCs phone center, and resulted in submission of “numerous” applications with checks included, he says. (Underwriting is still pending.)
In time, Stinson says, leads may also come from the product Web site (www.suzeschoice.com) and a related toll-free phone number.
In all cases, leads go to 100 LTC tele-agents, whom GE has “certified” to sell the Suzes Choice program, Stinson notes. These agents spend one to three hours on the phone with prospects, further educating on LTC; exploring LTC needs, ability to pay, medical history, suitability, product features, etc.; completing apps; arranging for underwriting; and so on.
To establish the program, GE and Orman cut a five-year contract. “Each party can back out” earlier, points out Orman in an NU interview. Thats important, she says, because if the program is not achieving the intended purpose, it can end.
While on a recent lecture tour, she was asked if the arrangement compromises her credibility as an independent financial advisor.