One of the great things about working for LifeHealthPro.com is knowing that one of our contributing publications, National Underwriter Life & Health, was there when insurers were contributing to some of the great public health achievements of our time.

National Underwriter was there when insurers were protecting consumers against death by fire by pushing for tougher fire safety codes.

National Underwriter was there when MetLife, Prudential and their competitors were battling tuberculosis by promoting pasteurization of milk.

National Underwriter covered some of the early skirmishes in insurers’ war against cigarette addiction.

Those campaigns helped establish the idea that, whatever mistakes life and health insurers have made in their time, at least, in some important instances, life and health insurers did what they could to make the world better. Life and health insurers might have acted to further their own self-interest, but their self-interest was, at some critical points, the people’s interest.

It seems to me that the state of nursing home disaster preparedness is another opportunity for life and health insurers, and especially insurers in the long-term care insurance (LTCI) market, to shine.

The inspector general’s office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today published a report noting that many U.S. nursing homes have no realistic plans to deal with disasters, even though they are in areas that could be, and often are, affected by tornadoes or other powerful storms.

Maybe one way for LTCI carriers and other insurers to show that they are committed to improving the well-being of LTCI customers and other retirement planning customers would be for insurers and producers to put their risk management and disaster planning skills to work for nursing homes.

What if, instead of drawing the reproachful eye of SEC and FINRA inspectors by holding a free annuity lunch seminar, an insurer and a crew of producers rounded up dozens of pre-retirees to hold a nursing home emergency planning bee? Put a whole crew to work figuring out who should call whom and do what if the nursing home suddenly had to evacuate its residents in a variety of likely and somewhat less likely scenarios.

What if, in a year or two, the LTCI community adds a twist to LTCI outreach efforts by talking about disaster preparedness planning for people getting home care, and those care recipients’ caregivers? 

Of course, the most likely disaster to befall most consumers is the quiet, steady, unthinkable slide toward old, old age. But maybe it would be easier for the LTCI community to help us think about the ordinary catastrophe of needing help getting out of bed by starting out with conversations about the flashier risks posed by floods and hurricanes.