Be Sure That App Is Right
Before You Submit It
Agents probably can reduce long term care policy denials and not-takens if they just take the time to ensure that the clients application is submitted correctly. Many needless delays stem from simple oversights, experts say.
Producers should always take the simple precaution of going over the application with the broker or marketing company before submitting it, advises Julie McClellan, a senior field underwriter with Westland Financial Services, San Diego.
One of the major omissions McClellan sees is overlooking inclusion of the first months premium with the application. Thats a sure way to get the application returned. Also, to avoid surprises, always pre-qualify the applicant as much as possible. If in doubt about an applicants chances for rejection, call the broker or underwriter and ask.
“Get medical data, surgery dates and so on–anything that gives us more information,” McClellan urges agents.
Mark Gebhardt, president, Commercial Markets Insurance Companies Inc., St. Mary, Fla., finds when grilling a client on medical background, its sometimes better not to ask directly what medications the person is on. “A lot of times, the customer is just taking that little pill and forgets to tell youeven though it turns out to be nitro,” he observes. “Instead, ask them what hurts and how they are feeling.”
Some problems stem not from the customer but rather from the agent trying to slip something through, Gebhardt points out. “Be honest, and you develop an excellent reputation with the underwriter,” he counsels. “Otherwise, they get to know you as a consistent problem. So, do it the right way. If it turns out to be a declination, so be it. Take your lumps.”
Margie Barrie, president of LTCI Consulting Group Inc., University Park, Fla., says many problematic agents dont even have LTC policies on themselves or their parents. “I insist they take an application out themselves if they are going to sell it–and on their parents as well,” Barrie says. “Go through the application and learn how to fill it out before sitting with a client.”
Another mistake agents make is letting assistants compete the application for the client, Barrie says. Thats the job of a licensed agent.
For brokers, Barrie believes there is no excuse for sending the carrier an app thats not complete.
“They should be checking and sending it back to the agent right away if theres a problem,” says Barrie. “Agents are often embarrassed to go back to the client, but the application must be filled in correctly.”
When a broker finds someone guilty of sending in an incomplete application, “you have to go back and let the person know you wont submit until its complete,” Barrie says. “If you dont, the approval process just takes too long.”
And that can lead to the client walking away from the sale.
This article first appeared in the March 15 issue of LTC e-Wire, an online publication of National Underwriter Life & Health.
Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, April 16, 2004. Copyright 2004 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.