To The Editor:
Regarding your Jan. 21 issue, there were several excellent articles on long term care insurance. I was especially interested in Robert Foreman’s article on “‘Casual’ LTC Producers, Are They Friend Or Foe?”
It’s troubling that the long term care insurance industry continues to be represented by thousands of agents, many of whom have never had any training in the sale of LTC insurance. Many of them have never had training in the issues concerning long term care that our citizens are going to face in this century.
When LTC insurance was first sold, 25 or 30 years ago, it was a very basic policy. First, it wasn’t called long term care insurance. It was basically nursing home insurance. A client paid so much a year to receive so much a day if they went into a nursing home, usually following three days in the hospital.
Those of us who have been in this industry for many years have seen the policies evolve to the point where they are very complex, and very important, as a tool for helping people to plan for the future.
Unfortunately, too many companies do not provide any training or any requirements, in terms of education, before they license someone to sell LTC insurance. As a matter of fact, there’s one company I’m familiar with that will not accept an agent license application unless it’s accompanied by a LTC insurance application. There is only one company that I’m aware of that actually has any type of training for its captive agents. This lack of training has to be a major challenge and major problem for us, in this century.
LTC insurance is, for many people, a very expensive product and they will expect to receive the services promised to them by the agent at time of sale. If the agent does not fully understand all the issues surrounding long term care and LTC insurance, and only sells policies as a commodity product, that type of agent, and there are many of them, cannot do the type of review and analysis that our customers deserve. They are simply not equipped to understand all the nuances and issues surrounding LTC.
Just as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed in 1996 because our industry was unwilling to police itself and develop standardized definitions of core benefits and provisions, I fear we’ll see some type of governmental action to force insurance companies to train agents before they license agents to sell LTC insurance. It’s too bad the majority of the industry is not taking the initiative and doing this themselves.