In the long term care insurance community, a cost-shifting is going on that hasnt gotten much press.
This entails shifting the costs for LTC-related technology and training to the distributors, according to Jean Garner, long term care specialist at Elite Marketing Group, Houston, Texas.
Speaking here at the Society of Actuarys 4th annual Intercompany LTC Insurance Conference, Garner was one of 4 panelists at an interactive session on “Agents: Are They Friends or Foes?”
The session title suggested the discussion would focus on LTC agents, perhaps from a company perspective. Yet, as it unfolded, the session focused more on how brokerage general agents and others in the field need carrier assistance in bringing technology improvements and training to LTC producers.
The expense costs are going “tremendously high” at BGAs, pointed out one panelist, Gary Katelman, the LTC division director at Senior Market Sales, Inc., Omaha, Neb. He attributed a lot of that to dealing with the service issues.
Training is another pressure, added a wholesaler from the floor, declaring, “the companies need to give BGAs and wholesalers the tools and resources to do the training.” And they need to make their message easy enough to sell, he said.
At one point, audience members took an informal poll about the most important issues they want insurers to recognize as being important to agents. The results, shown in the chart, put “underwriting” in first place, followed by “new business.”
Later comments reinforced that. Regarding underwriting, for example, someone in the audience suggested that carriers could help BGAs by inviting them into the home office for training on the underwriting guides. Then, the BGAs would be better equipped to help the agents, this person said.
Thats a good approach, suggested Garner. For instance, she said the decline rates at her firm are “very small, because we do look at the underwriting guide.”
Producers like hearing straightforward underwriting views, added Rob Brown, the panel moderator. He is vice president and chief underwriter at LifeCare Assurance Company, Woodland Hills, Calif. The panelists agreed.
If a case has serious problems, for example, “just tell the producer not to shop it, that it will be a decline. Agents appreciate that rather than being told to send it in and well look at it,” Brown said.