They may be long term care insurance agents on paper, but in terms of actual LTC policies sold, many producers just aren’t producing, experts at the Intercompany Long Term Care Insurance conference here agreed.
During a session to discuss the issue, Patrick Bradley, national sales manager of LTCI Partners LLC said too many producers think LTC insurance is hard to sell, in part because it’s considered too expensive by many clients. In addition, many haven’t had enough training about a product that is often confusing.
Financial advisors are focused on growing the client’s assets and don’t always give sufficient thought to protecting those assets in the event the client or the client’s spouse suffers a health crisis requiring long term care, he argued.
“The producer doesn’t want to learn about long term care,” he said. “We have to show them why to offer it. We talk about their fiduciary responsibility for assets under management.”
Bradley also noted that many financial advisors don’t want to have to ask questions about the client’s medical conditions, as required as part of the LTC policy sale. Many, too, are concerned that a client with whom they have had a long-term association might be declined by the carrier, with a potentially adverse impact on the client relationship.
The carrier or distributor can help ease such fears by helping the producer assure the case is likely to survive the carrier’s approval process before taking the application. They can also invite the agent to teleconference in one of their own professionals to guide the producer and the client through the sales process.
“The fact they know they’ll have someone to count on makes them much more confident,” he said.
Eric Williams, regional vice president of Allianz Life, said the industry was doing little to train people to see how easy it is to sell LTC insurance. Rather than simplify the product, the carrier should focus on simplifying the sale, giving the producers the words and ideas they can use to help the customer understand the need, he said. That demands that sales presentations should be limited to an hour or less, he advised. It also means shifting the focus from product training to sales training that gives the producer a full selling strategy.
The managing general agent can reinforce that approach by holding producers accountable for applying the training that carriers give. Williams urged MGAs to follow up training by asking such questions as, “What did you learn? How are you using it?” The MGA can also help the producer apply the training by going over the points that should be covered and questions to ask before each client meeting, he suggested.