“The product doesn’t sell the product,” says Dane Petchul, the owner of Long Term Care Insurance Pros in Irvine, Calif. “You can go through all of the options and the numbers all day and still not sell the product.”
That proclamation sounds ominous for financial professionals who specialize in LTCI. But Petchul doesn’t mean it that way. He simply knows, as do LTCI specialists across the country, that the LTCI sale is not like the sale of other insurance and financial products. Long term care insurance, even though it is gaining traction and being talked about more, is still a long sell. It is still an emotional sale. It is still a sale that depends on building a case for the product without necessarily highlighting the product.
The experts know consumers won’t buy LTCI until they see the need and respond to it emotionally. It’s up to advisors to build that need in the client’s mind and tie it to their emotions — whether that’s protecting their family or themselves from being caught in a caregiving situation.
Talking it out
“If a person knows they need it, they’ll find a way to afford it,” says Mark Wardell, a partner with Long Term Care Financial Partners, based in Memphis, Tenn.
Wardell and other specialists say that while price invariably comes up in the LTCI conversation, cost is almost never the bottom-line reason for purchasing or not purchasing coverage. Perhaps the best way to begin building the case for LTCI is to have people talk about their own experiences with long term care situations, whether it was with a grandparent or a parent or a friend’s family. And often advisors have to dig a little deeper with more probing questions. Janis Adams, an LTCI specialist based in Dana Point, Calif., says it comes down to putting life situations in perspective sometimes, because while other people’s stories can be compelling, it really takes a personal example to sway them.
“Sometimes you have to bring it out of them,” she says. “People don’t always see grandma taking care of grandpa as a long term care situation, but it is.”
Mary Steichen, president of Insurance Care Associates, in Oklahoma City, agrees. She says most people won’t even consider LTCI until they have a caregiving situation that hits close to home, and the only way for an advisor to find that out is to “get them to talk about their own story.” There may be something they’ve overlooked until they start thinking about their family situation and incidents from the past.
“Something drove them to see an LTCI specialist,” Steichen says. “Find out what it was that peaked their interest and build on it.”