It seems to me as if the kind of people who would think seriously about buying long-term care insurance (LTCI) — and have enough spare cash to pay for coverage — are the sorts of people who do a lot of things ahead of time.

They probably get regular checkups for themselves, their cars, their pets and their heating, ventilization and air conditioning systems.

They brush, and they floss. Regularly. Not just in the week before they go to the dentist.

And maybe they also buy presents ahead of time for Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever other winter holidays they happen to celebrate.

Visa Inc., San Francisco, commissioned telephone interviews of about 1,000 U.S. consumers from Dec. 16 to Dec. 18 and found that only 23% said they had finished shopping for gifts.

About 21% said they would have to buy at least 75% of their gifts during the brutal, final week.

“With this many Americans still desperate to buy gifts, we are officially in the red zone for ‘panic shopping’,” Jason Alderman, a Visa financial education director, said in a statement about the results. “When shoppers panic, they throw money at the problem and often overspend to get a gift – any gift – in time for the holidays.”

Sounds a little like the long-term care (LTC) and LTCI markets, doesn’t it?

People procrastinate, then discover, when they get serious about trying to buy LTCI that they’re uninsurable. Once they actually need LTC, they have health problems that get in the way of their having much say over where they end up.

Thoughts:

  • Maybe one of the best places to set up a LTCI outreach table would be near a display full of Christmas wrapping paper that’s on sale after the holidays.
  • Remind conscientious prospects that they’re conscientious. If they plan ahead for a $25 Christmas gift, why wouldn’t they plan ahead for the possibility of needing $250,000 in LTC?
  • Suggest that calm shoppers who think ahead have more choices, and that goes double for boomers who might eventually need LTC. If they have ideas about what kinds of facilities they might like later in life, maybe they should start checking out the market years, or even decades, before that frantic final week.