Agents Can Use These Guidelines To Spot When Clients May Need Help

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It is often the case that long term care insurance agents who have worked with a client for many years are the first to notice when somethings amiss, says Sandra Timmermann, director, MetLife Mature Market Institute.

Often this is because family members live far away and dont see the mail piling up, spots on once-pristine clothing and other such signs, says Timmermann, who is based in Westport, Conn. She is an advisor on gerontology for Long Term Care Partners LLC, the Portsmouth, N.H., partnership between MetLife Inc., New York, and John Hancock, Boston, that administers the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program sponsored by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

To help agents assess whether a family member is at or near the point when he or she would be unable to live independently, and thus require further intervention, LTC Partners has developed an informal guideline, the “Independent Living Test,” for producers to use. (See sidebar.)

Agents are not meant to use the guidelines in order to act as clinicians, Timmermann says. Rather, they should use the guidelines as “tools where you really look at whether people need LTC insurance.” If in talking to customers, for instance, an agent begins to sense there are symptoms–things are happening at home, the elders are not answering their mail, etc.–”its a bit of a red flag, and perhaps the agent might be able to tell a spouse or contact family,” she says.

The guidelines are tools that can enable agents to be a resource to their clients or prospective clients, she says. For example, if a client exhibits some of the symptoms on the list, the agent can make him or her aware of community resources through which the client can have meals delivered and other services as well.

“Its a relationship-building strategy,” Timmermann says. “The agents can help their customers.”

If a prospective client has symptoms listed in the guidelines, she adds, such individuals would not likely be eligible for LTC insurance.

According to the guidelines, the questions in the chart can be used to determine whether a loved one is having difficulty in performing everyday activities. The results may reveal whether the family member can live independently or whether intervention is necessary.

This article is reprinted from the December edition of LTC e-Wire, an online pubication of National Underwriter Life & Health edition.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, January 6, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.