Deborah Peterson has been the insurance business for over 25 years and specializing in long-term care insurance (LTCi) for the last 15. She also does some annuity sales for her LTCi clients.

In January, Deborah became the first woman inducted into ACSIA’s Blue Blazer club. This club, which currently includes 10 producers, is comprised of those who have both built a $1 million dollar book of business and been with ACSIA at least 10 years. 

Deborah lives in the Seattle area.

1. How many phone calls do you make a week to set appointments.?

I have stopped counting. Now, I find if I block off a couple of hours a day to phone, that’s going to generate 8 to 10 appointments. I vary the times: 8:30-10:30 a.m., then 4-6, 6-8pm, Saturday mornings 9-11 am. If it’s a snow day, it’s going to be all day.

I do a lot of mentoring of new agents. For them, it’s very important to count. If you’re new, you want to get a feel for what it takes. You’ll usually find that it takes an hour to get an appointment. The value of counting is that it instills discipline. If you dial 100 times, and at peak times, it works. Of course, if you’re dialing at 2 p.m., you might as well clean your sock drawer instead.

2. How old were you when you bought your own LTCi?

49, and it wasn’t that I had a sense of urgency about LTCi. It had to make sense to me in order for me to sell it. What I observed, is that, for many people, their health changes began to happen in their 50s. So, it made sense for me to buy it then. I bought a lifetime, unlimited plan and got a rate increase. Ten years later, I decided to scale back the benefits to keep premiums reasonable. My husband and I each have 5-year, $8,000/month benefits. We’re well covered, beyond the average risk.

3. What’s YOUR LTC plan? (Plan, not insurance.)

I hope that’s a long way away. So, I can’t answer that in detail. I’m a very social person. I can’t see myself living alone in my house. I expect I’ll be living in a very active retirement assisted living community. I’m looking forward to the limousine taking me places.

4. What LTCi policy do you sell the most these days and why?

This year, United of Omaha is getting 90% of my business. In my state (Washington), they offer the most flexibility in terms of design. It’s also very price competitive. I love their Cash First plan, and that I can change percentage of covered benefit for home care, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes.

When I explain that at claim time your family can take a cash option, people love that. I can write 100% home care and nursing home, with a lower percentage for assisted living. This allows me to manage the risk to what they believe their most likely scenario will be, and gives the family the most flexibility.

I use a 90-day [exclusion period] (EP), because we’re covering long-term care, not short-term care. United of Omaha also offers inflation options in half-percent increments. I write a lot of 4% compound. It compares favorably against most companies’ 3%. I always do shared benefit for couples. I find a lot of agents are selling too high a benefit. They sell the Jaguar to everyone. Whatever benefit they have is a gift to the family to help them manage the care better

5. How many claims have you seen?

About a half a dozen. The one that stands out is the client who bought at age 60. A year and 3 months later, he had a stroke. His children were so grateful that he had the foresight to have the coverage. “We can focus on dad and not worry about the money.” I have seen kids whose parents don’t have LTCi overwhelmed with the responsibility of managing both the care and the money.

6. Think back to when you graduated; what did you plan to be then?

I don’t think I thought about being anything. I majored in boys! I fell into banking, which was my first career. I had an opportunity to go into real estate; I then realized I loved sales. I entered the insurance industry when interest rates were 21% and you couldn’t sell houses. I love the freedom, the chance to make my own way. The reap and sow. My husband doesn’t understand how I can live not knowing how much I’m going to make…I call it the adrenaline rush.

7. What hobby do you most enjoy or would you like to try next?

I want to go to a cooking school in Europe. I do enjoy entertaining and cooking for my friends. It makes people happy. I enjoy golfing, although I’m bad at it. I love to go for quiet, peaceful hikes in the woods, with my dog (a husky-shepherd mix) to scare off the bears.

8. What is your favorite drink?

I’ve been known to enjoy a glass of wine or two. The town I live in has 70 wineries (Woodinville).

9. What makes you happy?

Cooking and entertaining for my friends.

10. Can you share a resource, service, program, software, etc. or two that has been critical to your success?

Although I’m not very computer literate, the ACSIA webinar sales training program has changed my business. Over 90% of my business is now over the phone with screen-share. This opened up my state to me. It got me over the Cascade Mountains.

I do all my selling over the phone, so I no longer drive to hear “I want to think about it.” I will drive to sign paperwork and build the relationship if they are less than an hour away.

I recently hired a local social media coach. I’m getting very proficient at LinkedIn; I’m posting articles on almost a daily basis. My goal is to increase referrals through the social media network. It takes me only about 15 minutes in the morning and in the evening.

Stratecision gives me the ability to compare companies side-by-side, making my job so much easier.

I have my website through LTC Connection; I like the idea that they keep it up-to-date for me. I will be customizing it. It’s managed for me. I use their online calendar. The same software has an underwriting guide. You can do through it with the client.

Technology makes things easier today. In addition, this is the peak for aging baby boomers; we’ve waited a long time to get good press. Baby boomers are turning 65, and our average buyer is 57. I think this is a really great time to get into LTC.

11. IPhone, Blackberry or other?

Blackberry right now.

12. How many more years do you see yourself doing this?

Realistically, I’m thinking ten. I don’t know what that will look like. I enjoy doing a lot of things. I love mentoring agents; not one-on-one, in groups. I may do sales coaching. I hate to think about getting old and not working. Y’know how you never feel your age? In this business, you don’t ever have to retire – you can slow down…