Sales of long term care insurance policies are down for 29% of the LTC producers who participated in a recent online survey but up for 27%.

The Association for Long Term Care Insurance, Westlake Village, Calif., and Agent Media, a division of Summit Business Media L.L.C., Erlanger, Ky., the parent of National Underwriter Life & Health, have published those figures in a summary of results from a May survey of about 400 agents.

Although 7% said their LTC product sales had been down substantially over the previous 12 months, 5% said their products had increased substantially. About 22% said sales were down somewhat, and 22% said sales had risen somewhat. Sales remained about the same for 45%.

In May, producers were upbeat about the coming year, with 68% expecting LTC insurance sales to rise in the next 12 months–and 19% predicting volume would be up substantially. Just 4% thought sales would fall, but of these, none thought the decrease would be substantial. The remaining 28% thought LTC sales would hold steady.

Asked to identify their biggest problems with selling LTC insurance, 71% cited clients’ belief that they could not afford it, 57% blamed client procrastination and 54% blamed clients’ belief that they did not need the product.

Other challenges cited: Finding qualified prospects or new clients (38%), clients not understanding the product (15%), carrier rate increases (14%) and a difficult underwriting process (13%).

The most desirable feature for clients in evaluating an LTC insurance product,

according to 35% of producers, is any feature allowing the beneficiary to stay in the beneficiary’s own home as long as possible.

Other findings:

- 31% of the producers said they had LTC insurance clients who were currently collecting benefits from their policies, up from 23% who said they had such clients in 2009.

- 61% of the producers said they mostly sold policies covering actual LTC expenditures, vs. 39% mostly selling policies providing cash payments following an LTC event.

- 53% said they had sold no combination products (annuities or life insurance with LTC riders) in the past year, down from 62% who had not sold such products in 2009.

- 72% said they expect to sell a life or annuity policy offering LTC benefits in the next 12 months, up from 54% who said so in last year’s survey.

- 41% said they were selling LTC policies from only one or two carriers, and 19% were selling policies from five or more carriers.

- 74% said LTC insurance sales accounted for 10% of their annual income or less.