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Scary Things

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There’s no better time than Halloween to think about what scares you. So, in no particular order, here are some things — mostly relating to the life insurance industry — that scare me. The links will lead you to more detailed coverage of each issue.

  • The Retained Asset Accounts controversy. This whole trumped-up non-issue “issue” served to give life insurers a black eye when they shouldn’t have taken a punch.
  • Paranormal Activity. This is the kind of scary movie that will keep me up at night.
  • The dangerously underinsured middle market. This is the kind of issue that keeps me up at night.
  • The aging producer workforce. The average producer is closer to 60 than 50, and the industry is struggling to recruit, properly train and retain young new talent to replenish that aging workforce. This, in turn, contributes to the underinsurance problem. Veteran producers focus on the affluent market, while middle-market consumers, who need to be informed about and protected by life insurance, go unapproached.
  • The coming year of political campaigning. If someone would invent an app for my TV that would automatically mute every political commercial through Nov. 6, 2012, I would pay handsomely.
  • The recently deceased CLASS Act. That thing was never going to work. Not with five years of paying in before being eligible for any benefits and benefits that would only make a small dent in covering actual LTC costs should they be needed. Scary that it lived as long as it did.
  • The Federal Insurance Office. The fact that it now exists doesn’t necessarily scare me if I’m a producer, but it’s something I would definitely want to keep an eye on, lest this “watchdog” sneak up and bite me in the posterior. If you were in Vegas, would you bet against increased federal regulation of the insurance industry by 2013?
  • Steven Tyler’s new look. I don’t want to meet the bathroom floor that rearranged his face.
  • Long-term care in 20 years. Statistics say about 70% of people over 65 will at some point need long-term care services. Unless dramatic, fundamental changes occur, I fear America’s 77 million baby boomers will overwhelm a system that is currently nowhere near ready to deal with what’s coming — especially considering the lack of retirement savings that is a reality for so many of them.
  • Being buried alive. Saved my biggest irrational fear for last. Happy Halloween!