I am continually amazed by what accomplished people will say when they’re in denial about long term care insurance. Do they really believe their excuses are credible?

I made a presentation to a single friend from Rotary in her late 50s who is self-employed and has no children. After the presentation, I followed up with her, but she would not give me a specific response. Several weeks later, she indignantly told me not to ask her about LTCI again. Her conduct violated the Rotary 4-Way test we pledge to adhere to as Rotarians because it did not build goodwill, to say the least! I’m certain that when she presents to her clients, she wants direct, honest feedback. Denial can be irrational, unprofessional, unbecoming, and demeaning.

Another amazing story of denial
My client is a 48-year-old executive. Her husband is 75. I took her LTCI application in person, but I did not meet her husband; she took the application home for him to complete.

An in-person screening for the husband was ordered as part of routine underwriting. My client said she listened to the interview from the next room. Her husband failed it cognitively — and in a very big way.

The rejection letter from the LTCI carrier jolted her into reality. Until then, she was in total denial. When I asked how my client had missed such obvious deficits in her own husband, she said her husband masked his loss and had become more reclusive. She didn’t notice or think much of it. She then admitted that just that morning, he’d forgotten how to zip up his sweater.

However, this client was only partially jolted into reality — she has been unwilling to pursue LTCI for herself.

Work with denial — not against it
Extremely seasoned LTCI specialists are still perturbed, hurt, and thrown off course by denial. The only thing that improves over time is the ability to recognize denial for what it is. Don’t expect to ever fully understand it. Realize that coping with denial is a large part of our job description. If producers cannot spot denial for what it is, they may be paralyzed by it.

Overcoming denial requires perseverance. Know that you will not live to see all of denial’s variations, and don’t allow prospects to make you feel bad about your professionalism and concern in order to avoid a discussion of long term care planning.

Stay current and fight the fight
To more easily spot and assess denial, you must stay current in your LTCI knowledge. Understand how the looming “silver tsunami” will affect care. Learn about the current state of government finances and methods of paying for care. Know the LTCI success stories. Such information will deepen your conviction and passion for LTCI and help break through excuses.

Beware of the effect of denial, and don’t take it personally. You won’t often overcome it, but hopefully, when prospects give you excuses, your knowledge will allow you to respectfully and tactfully challenge them. Perhaps your achievement will simply be gently disturbing while finding a way to continue the relationship.

Honey Leveen has been an LTCI specialist for 19 years and blogs regularly on industry trends at www.honeyleveen.com. She can be reached at honey@honeyleveen.com.