Agents Weigh In On Having An Only LTC Specialty

By

Selling only long term care insurance might seem like a risky prospect to agents who sell many different products. But some agents wouldnt have it any other way.

Take Gary Reppen, for instance. Selling only LTC insurance is “very lucrative,” says the sales manager at Signator, Morris Plains, N.J. “The commissions are very large.”

But selling at a high volume involves constant marketing, he points out, noting that Signator does this via telemarketers, direct mail, and workshops for affinity groups. “Its a constant balance. One week, direct mail is great, the next week its lousy. You kind of have to have your finger on all of it to be successful, because at different times of year different things work better.”

The most effective tool is referrals, Reppen says. He attributes the high number of referrals the company gets to sensitivity to clients needs and a refusal to rush them into buying a policy. “We show concern and take the time to listen,” he says.

James Carrier recruits and trains agents to sell primarily LTC insurance for Accordia, West Virginia. He agrees its not difficult to earn a living selling mostly, if not only, LTC insurance. Its “not tough when you figure out why people buy it,” he says.

Carrier says he became involved with LTC insurance after he saw his grandmother, who had saved her money all along since 1948, spend every nickel she had (on care). “I thought theres got to be a better way,” Carrier says.

In the early- and mid-1990s, about 90% of Carriers clients were over age 60. Today, it isnt unusual to sell to people in their 40s and 50s, he says. He attributes this to insurance companies creating products that are attractive to younger people.

One of the biggest problems people have selling LTC insurance, he says, is convincing the public the government will not pay the bill. “The public has been preconditioned to think someone else will pay the bill for them. Until that goes away, it will continue to be a product that does not meet the expectations of the (insurance) companies,” he says.

“Also, there are too many agents who dont understand what theyre selling. They need better training.” Too many agents approach selling LTC insurance as a moneymaking venture, he contends, adding that is a mistake. “We should not approach the marketplace from a profit motive. We have to want to do whats best for the client and ask what they want done,” he says.

There are many agents who sell LTC insurance, but few who sell only LTC insurance, says Rosemarie Hurley, a LTC specialist with Senior Insurance Solutions, Bonita Springs, Fla. Having entered LTC sales from being involved with Medicare supplement policies, she says she feels being a LTC specialist has given her an edge in the market.

“It was a natural transition,” she recalls. “Clients were asking, do I need LTC insurance? “

She focuses on finding the company that best suits her clients and that appeals to them. “Its a difficult product to buy on your own,” Hurley adds. “Its mind-boggling.”

It takes a specific temperament to specialize in LTC insurance sales, Hurley contends. “It requires a lot of patience and quite a bit of time with a client. I find its a two-appointment sale, and sometimes its a couple of months of waiting and massaging a client.”

Far from feeling pigeonholed by selling just one product, Hurley says LTC specialization suits her propensity for detail.

“I think its difficult to be very good at everything, but I can be very good at LTC because I can focus on it,” she says. “I try to be ahead of the game by checking all the products out there so I dont get any surprises.”

Other agents often tell Hurley that since she has so many clients, it would behoove her to sell other products to those clients, as well. Instead, she continues to focus solely on LTC insurance sales and to broaden her client base by aligning herself with CPAs, attorneys and financial planners who refer their clients to her when LTC insurance questions arise.

“They are very happy to use me,” she says. “That helps.”

This article first appeared in the September 2002 edition of LTC e-Wire, an online publication of National Underwriter Life & Health.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, September 30, 2002. Copyright 2002 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.