Getting the word out
The “Own Your Future” public awareness campaign is designed to increase understanding of long term care and LTCI. A collaboration among several government agencies with support from the National Governors Association, the project was started in January 2005. Its core activities are state-based direct-mail campaigns targeted to households with members between the ages of 45 and 70. Eileen Tell, senior vice president with Univita Health (formerly LTCG) in Natick, Mass., says her firm has been involved with the campaign and believes it is critical to increasing the public’s awareness.
“The research that we’ve done on the Own Your Future campaign shows that people who receive the planning guide are twice as likely to take some kind of action, be it buying long term care insurance, talking with family about their future preferences, talking to a financial planner or broker or looking into their existing coverage to see if it included long term care,” she says.
The weak economic climate gave clients and prospects another reason to avoid discussing LTCI, says Dan Forbes, CFP, with Forbes Financial Planning Inc. in Providence, R.I. As the economy and markets have started to recover, however, Forbes has found greater willingness to consider asset-protection strategies such as LTCI. He’s also seeing a shift in the desired contract benefits and is adapting his advice. “I try to advise clients to really focus on the daily allowance that they’re buying and not necessarily get lifetime coverage,” he says. “So they have some coverage in place, but it’s not necessarily a lifetime of coverage, which I think was the trend in earlier sales of long term care.”
Back-to-basics sales skills
Rob Cochran, LTCP, CLU, ChFC, owns Long Term Care Insurance Services LLC in Orlando, Fla., and is the author of “The Truth About Long Term Care Insurance.” He says one reason for reduced LTCI sales is that agents and the industry often pin their hopes on developing the perfect product that will eliminate all of the clients’ objections. That’s not the right approach, he believes.
“The reality is it’s probably always going to come down to convincing the prospect or client that this is an issue that they must face and deal with,” he says. “There are not only one or two reasons why people don’t address these issues, but rather 16 reasons that I’ve identified that we must be able to effectively overcome. Product design might make it easier to address one or two objections, but we’re still left with 14 other reasons. To me, those odds aren’t good enough.”