Unfortunately, it’s not hard to find good LTC insurance producers these days, say executives in the industry.

“Recruiting isn’t the problem,” says Barbara Haselden, president, Hometown Insurers Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla. “Success is the problem.”

In the current slow market, there are character traits that can help the producer thrive–and which seasoned LTC agency-brokerage executives say can be useful when recruiting new agents.

“I look for a combination of someone who has had personal experience with long term care in their family, and who’s an entrepreneur with good organizational skills,” says Haselden.

Excellent organizational skills are essential for prospecting and follow-up, because it can take as long as a year to turn a typical prospect into a sale, she notes. “It’s easy to lose a prospect through the cracks if you’re not organized,” she adds.

Because of the time a typical sale can take, persistence and tenacity are also important. It also helps if the agent has financial resources in reserve, Haselden says. “You can’t expect to make money right away with long term care insurance.”

James P. O’Keefe, president of the Agency For Long Term Care Insurance, Farmington Hills, Mich., cites persistence, education and product knowledge as key qualities for successful agents.

“The agent also has to have empathy for the senior person,” O’Keefe says. “Listening skills are very important–the ability to hear what the client is saying and to interpret it.”

LTC clients are typically older, and younger salespeople often don’t seem to have the empathy needed to listen to them closely and to communicate to them, according to O’Keefe. “Understanding the market, the mindset of senior folks is vital. Seniors want respect, acknowledgment of their contributions,” he says.

Rather than recruiting LTC insurance specialists, O’Keefe prefers to work with agents selling other products. Then he looks for opportunities to make joint calls with them.

When recruiting, O’Keefe says he wants to find people who are in the insurance business but who have not chosen long term care. “I’m not looking for neophytes,” he adds.

Anthony C. Stratidis, managing partner, LTC Advantage Inc., Westbrook, Conn., says he also favors existing agents who are inexperienced in LTC insurance.

“We prefer a clean slate, where we can mold individuals with the proper sales methodology,” he says. Ultimately, though, he expects the individual to earn a CLTC or LTCP designation.

As for character traits, Stratidis cites patience as a vital virtue for an LTC producer.

“They need patience in learning the industry and its products and in dealing with clients,” he says. “They also need empathy and understanding, to know where the client is coming from–how they’re going to fund the insurance, and so on.”

As for what selling LTC insurance offers to candidates, that’s obvious, says Haselden of Hometown Insurers Inc.

“It’s a very rewarding field in terms of the appreciation you get from families when it’s time to file a claim,” she says.

This article originally appeared in the October 2005 issue of LTC e-Wire, an online publication of National Underwriter Life & Health. You can subscribe for free to this monthly e-newsletter by going to www.lifeandhealthinsurancenews.com.

The agent should have empathy for the senior person, says one advisor, as well as “the ability to hear what the client is saying and to interpret it.”

What Helps

==Good organizational skills

==Empathy with seniors

==Persistence and tenacity

==Entrepreneurial attitude

==Patience

==Product knowledge

==Education

==Financial resources in reserve