LTC Financial Partners LLC announced that it has been chosen by the National Education Association of the United States to offer long term care insurance from John Hancock Life Insurance Company to NEA members.

The new program opens up a ripe LTC insurance sales potential for the two companies. With 3.2 million members, mostly teachers and educational support staff, NEA is the nation’s largest professional employee organization.

LTCFP, a nationwide network of about 500 LTC insurance agencies and brokerages headquartered in Kirkland, Wash., will sell the policies and provide LTC education and assistance to active and retired NEA members and their families. Hancock and LTCFP representatives will work directly with NEA’s Member Benefits Corporation, a subsidiary of the association that markets a variety of financial and professional programs to members of NEA, Washington.

The program aims to help educators and associated employees to buy affordable LTC policies, NEA said in a statement.

“This partnership will enable us to offer members a customized long term care insurance program with a focus on consumer education,” said Gary Phoebus, president and chief executive of NEA Member Benefits.

NEA had previously offered LTC insurance to members through a TPA, National Health Administrators, Dallas, underwritten by Life Investors Insurance Company of America and Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company. The teacher’s group switched to LTCFP and Hancock after deciding to put the benefit out to bid to LTC marketing organizations, says Scott Williams, vice president of sales for Hancock, Boston, part of Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto.

“They asked each marketing organization they contacted for their best carrier, and LTCFP chose to bring us. Then we jointly worked on gaining their endorsement,” Williams says.

NEA member benefits vice president Barry Hudson says his group looked at proposals from a number of vendors after its agreement with NHA expired in August 2007.

“We wanted to make sure the distribution company was well grounded in educating consumers, because long term care insurance requires consumers to know what they are doing,” he says. “We wanted a partner that would emphasize that much more than sales, so LTC Financial Partners was selected.”

The fact that Hancock offered LTC products that were widely available and had a record of financial stability were also important considerations, he said.

Jenny Fassett, a spokeswoman for LTCFP, says her company will use booklets, direct mail, seminars, telephone counseling and the Internet to teach NEA members about their LTC options and the need for LTC insurance.

Brokers will follow up on inquiries generated by marketing and provide personal consultation at the individual’s home or business when requested, she says. LTCFP will sell the policies and provide LTC education and assistance.