Every day, I write and edit articles urging agents like you to talk to their clients about long term care insurance (LTCI). I listen to the stories producers tell me about clients who have lost everything because they didn’t have coverage, or the triumphs agents have had when they did sell a policy in time, and they helped to protect a family’s assets. And this entire time, I have sat idly by, knowing that I don’t have LTCI myself. Just like 53 percent of clients*, I’m procrastinating to purchase a policy because I think I’m too young. Another part of me agrees with the 77 percent of people who think LTCI is just too expensive – I don’t need an extra expense right now.

But recently my father was diagnosed with dementia. If I’m being honest, I’m not really surprised about it – the signs have been around for a long time. He would forget that we had already ordered when we went out to eat, or he would call me by my sister’s name even though I’d reminded him more than once who I was. When we got the news, the first thing I started to wonder was how long it would be before he would need some sort of long term care? I mentioned this to my husband, who asked, “Doesn’t he have insurance?”

I laughed.

My dad hasn’t prepared for his retirement very well. His health isn’t good, and he has almost no savings. He lives off Social Security and his pension, and gets health care from Medicare and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. If I could go back 30 years, I would buy an LTCI policy for him, just to make sure he had adequate coverage.

Unfortunately, that’s not an option. I don’t have a time machine; I can’t make sure that my father’s assets are protected. But I can make sure that mine are. After realizing what a lack of coverage will do not only to my dad’s finances, but to my entire family’s, I don’t want to take any chances.

It’s a sad truth that many of your clients might need an experience like mine to convince them to purchase LTCI. A lot of consumers simply do better with first-hand experience. But it’s your job as an agent to make sure that things don’t have to get that far. Tell them stories of other clients where LTCI has saved them – or could have. Tell them stories from your own life. Tell them my story. Whatever you do, you need to make it real – no matter what product you are discussing.

Heather Trese is the associate editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal.

*According to the 2009 LTCI Market Study by Agent Media.