By getting a prospect’s adult children involved in the long term care insurance sales process, you can help clarify some of the lingering objections to coverage–and possibly even score a double-header by floating the benefits of shared-care policies to cover both generations.
The dynamic changes when prospects’ children get involved in the long term care insurance sales process. Each case will have its own circumstances, but if you sell LTCI, at some point you’re likely to encounter cases involving multiple generations of the prospect’s family. Handle the situation correctly and it can help grow your business.
Loren Boyens, ChFC, CLU, LUTCF, is with the Stonebridge Group (part of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans), in Sioux Falls, S.D. He doesn’t encounter multi-generation cases frequently, but when it has occurred, there’s usually one of two responses. “One is, ‘Mom or Dad, do what you want. It’s your money. You take care of it,’” Boyens says. “The other response might be, ‘Mom or Dad, don’t worry about buying long term care. We’ll take care of you,’ which is, well, it’s a rather ridiculous response. In most cases, the parents see the futility in that, because they have lived enough life to know that after six months of changing their parents’ diapers, their adult children might sing a different tune.”
Boyens responds to those objections by sharing experiences from his 23 years of selling LTCI. “I tell them stories of other adult children who have gone before them. They’ve been seated in our conference room chairs in tears, regretting that they have just written the last check out of Mom and Dad’s estate or they have had to sell the farm. Or they have had to sell the business or some action that had to be taken in order to pay for the parents’ care,” he says. “And the tears are not out of disappointment that they are spending their inheritance. Rather, they are tears of frustration because they were witnesses of how hard Mom and Dad worked to accumulate those assets. That’s why the tears are there.”
During his initial conversations with the prospects, Ken Schulman, CLTC, with DBS Financial Group in South Florida, asks if any adult children are involved in the decision process. If so, he prefers to get them involved sooner rather than later. It makes sense for the offspring to be involved, he says: “In long term care, the victim is not the person who gets sick or the insured–it’s the family members that have to take care of the person. The other part of it is that very often, it’s the kids’ responsibility in the end to pay for everything because parents have limited funds. The parents are saying, ‘I’ll just live off of what money we have in the bank and I won’t leave anything to the kids.’ The kids say, ‘Wait a second … I’d rather insure against it and let you keep your money and then pass it on to us or the grandkids.’ So there are real reasons for the children to be involved.”
In some cases, parents consult with their children but still make the final decision. “It depends on what type of role the parents are playing,” says Schulman. “There’s no typical scenario. If I’m dealing with 65-year-old parents who have real wealth, then I’m not worried about the children making recommendations.” The most difficult situations can involve children who oppose LTCI and refuse to consider it. “If they’re half-listening and they just say, ‘You know what, I don’t care what you say,’ you move on,” Schulman says. “You just have to know when to cut your losses and then say to the parents: ‘Listen, he doesn’t want to have anything to do with this. Do we have a basis for discussion either with another child or with you? Or should I just pack my bags?’”
Lorie Davidson, an agent with Bankers Life & Casualty in Cedar Falls, Iowa, welcomes the chance to talk with prospects’ children because they are often in denial about long term care. Part of that denial stems from the notion that they will take care of their parents when the parents need help. Another factor is that many adult children still view LTCI solely as nursing home coverage. Once they learn about the policies’ flexibility, their resistance lowers.
“If I am able to talk to the kids, I can close it,” says Davidson. “They want to take care of their family; they don’t want to put Mom or Dad in the nursing home. They don’t know that long term care is pretty much every type of care outside the hospital.”
Davidson has also found opportunities to work with clients’ children. “I’ve been in the business long enough where I’m going to the children [to recommend LTCI] now because their parents are using it,” she says. “The younger they are, they’re either interested or not. But they’re becoming more aware of LTCI because many hospitals are closing their skilled nursing units. Home health care is becoming just phenomenal and we’re seeing a lot of new facilities to let people be independent and keep their dignity.”
It’s not just parents who initiate the multi-generational conversation about LTCI, says Terry Sandvold of Sandvold and Associates in St. Louis Park, Minn. He’s finding that as adult children realize the cost their parents face and how those costs are increasing, the kids themselves may recommend the purchase. In some cases, those adult children are willing to partially or fully fund the premiums. Custom-designing a shared-care policy that insures both generations is another option for working with each of them, in the right circumstances. Sandvold gives an example in which one parent is still alive and knows that she will be living with one of her unmarried children who will care for her in the future. By designing a policy with a shared-care feature, both parties can benefit from combined coverage. For example, if both the mother and child have 5-year benefits and the mother needs to use the coverage, she could combine the policies’ benefits for a 10-year period.
Each LTCI case is unique, but it’s not uncommon for senior prospects to ask for their adult children’s opinions on buying the coverage. As these pros show, that doesn’t mean it’s a lost sale. In fact, with the right response you have a chance at landing more than