Multi-life sales may represent the next wave for the senior market. For many senior advisors, this wide-open category is quickly becoming the fuel for sustained growth and business expansion as the industry evolves from a sales-driven culture to one of long-term problem solving.
A relatively tight labor market with employers seeking to retain talented workers and reduce costly turnover problems has helped prompt the search for someone who can help provide cost-effective benefits. What’s also helping is the government-supported phenomenon of turning more and more planning responsibility to the individual. As Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid continue to struggle to meet the needs of a burgeoning senior population, those who can fill the benefits breach will be in demand.
“The whole market is moving in this direction,” says Ted Burke of Beacon Benefits Consulting in Foxboro, Mass. Burke, who has a background in qualified-plan management, says networking with like-minded professionals from different disciplines is the key to building multi-life sales. “Know your core competencies and remain the hub of the wheel. Let everyone else be a spoke and leverage the relationship.”
Burke, who often helps companies get the most out of their 401(k) provider, says it’s good to act like the client’s “eye and ears” when looking for an opening to provide multi-life sales. “Know what the plan provides and what it doesn’t and get the client what he needs.”
It’s usually the leading advisors who will continue to bring forth new concepts in coverage. But Burke adds that it’s nearly impossible for one advisor to be all things to each client and there is a caveat when reaching out to others to provide additional services. Whenever bringing in an outside professional to augment your practice, be completely certain that that person is highly qualified and experienced. Any missteps will reflect negatively on the person who provided the recommendation.
“There’s no question that businesses want to retain key employees,” says Dan McCarty, an advisor with William Tell Financial in Latham, N.Y. “The challenge is for them to regularly improve employee benefits packages while staying within their budgets.” Products that commonly enhance multi-life sales include long term care and disability income insurance, but the marketplace is open to suggestions.
“Look at second-to-die policies,” McCarty says. “This can be just what a client needs. They often can buy more coverage for the same premium.” McCarty frequently helps clients double their coverage with the same premium. “It’s two lives but one estate. This gives them greater coverage and helps double the size of the estate they’ll leave heirs.”
“The multi-life segment is the undisputed growth engine of the disability income (DI) insurance market,” says Mark R. Ameigh, CLU, multi-life sales manager with Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America, in Pittsfield, Mass. “Individual DI coverage that is sold on a multi-life basis is fundamentally a business market concept, since coverage is sold to or through employers.”
Programs sold on this basis may include premium discounts, gender-neutral rates and, for groups of 10 or more employees, guaranteed issue. Multi-life supplements other employer-provided disability benefits such as group long term disability (LTD).
“The multi-life market is wide open,” says Tony Stratidis, career agency system channel manager for executive benefits at MassMutual. He says the concept began to grow “when carriers saw the possibility to cross over.”
Stratidis says multi-life prospects often can be created by working with top producers in other areas such as property and casualty, disability or life insurance, and basing projections upon the prior existing relationship. MassMutual also encourages advisors to grow multi-life sales in the executive carve-out and family owned business segments.
“This is a trend of the future,” Stratidis says. “More and more employees want insurance provided through the work site. They like the payroll deduction and the convenience.” Stratidis adds that demographics also support this trend.
“Most key executives and managers are in their late 40 and 50s,” he says. “Multi-life benefits go hand-in-hand with executive compensation and are also offered for employees’ spouses.”