Abe Gruenwald, CLU, CLTC, is a personal-producing general agent who has concentrated primarily on LTCI for almost 20 years. Peter Gelbwaks, president of Gelbwaks Executive Marketing Group, describes Gruenwald as “our top GA (personal producing) for the last nine years.”
Gruenwald works out of New York, and estimates that two-thirds of his cases now come from client referrals and referrals from such professionals as accountants, attorneys, P&C agents, and other advisors.
Q: How many phone calls do you make each week to set appointments?
Abe Gruenwald: I don’t have a set number; I guess 50-75 calls. Years and years ago, I had to have 15 appointments a week. Now, I’m hopefully smarter and better with my relationships. I may have six, three, or eight appointments a week – it varies.
A lot of my marketing these days is to professional referral sources. I belong to two chapters of the [Financial Planning Association] to meet financial planners, I am a 15-year member and past president of my local estate planning council, and I even belong to the elder law section of my local bar association (some chapters allow non-lawyers to join as an affiliated, non-voting, member). I came out of the life insurance business and partner with some life agents, as well as P&C people and accountants.
Q: How old were you when you bought your own LTCI policy?
AG: Age 51. I remember doing the phone interview as I drove to my brother-in-law’s house on Cape Cod in 2002.
Q: What’s your personal plan for long term care?
AG: Barring unknown services that could exist in the future, I would definitely stay at home, ideally. I believe, as I explain to everyone, that LTCI is “nursing-home avoidance” insurance.
Q: Which LTCI policy do you sell the most these days, and why?
AG: In the individual marketplace, primarily John Hancock because of the healthy relationship that I have with underwriting and customer service. They are definitely user-friendly. Multi-life, I go with Prudential.
Q: How many claims have you seen?
AG: About 15 so far, all handled very well. Typically, families are calling me, and I facilitate the claim.
Q: Think back to when you graduated; what did you plan to be back then?
AG: I had no idea! I was a business major. The Vietnam War was going on, and when I graduated, I had a low draft number. I started off in the banking industry, in a bank training program in New York City. One of bank’s customers was insurance carrier. After five years with the bank, I started in life and health as a career agent for several years, then worked on Wall Street as an insurance specialist for three-and-a-half years. In 1990, I became an independent broker, and got into LTC.
Q: What hobby do you most enjoy or would you like to try next?
AG: Traveling; golf; reading espionage novels, especially [David] Baldacci and [James] Patterson. I used to play the accordion, and I do want to learn the saxophone one day.
Q: What is your favorite drink?
AG: Virgin pi?a colada.
Q: What makes you happy?
AG: Spending time with friends and family; outdoor activities.
Q: Can you share a resource, service, program, or piece of software that has been critical to your success?
AG: Working with Peter (Gelbwaks) and his staff. They are extremely helpful, supportive, and available. I promote myself as being independent, and I’ve developed my own LTC spreadsheet. Stratecision is a very good, as well as the competition departments of the insurers.
Q: BlackBerry, iPhone, or other?
AG: My kids laugh at me: old cell phone.
Q: How many more years do you see yourself doing this?
AG: I would guess seven to 10 years, part time at some point during those years.