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Life Health > Life Insurance

LTCI Watch: Coffee Media

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First: If I somehow seem to be referring to one of your brochures here, please don’t take this personally. I understand where you’re coming from. It’s easier to criticize a sales pitch than to write a sales pitch.

But, anyhow: A lot of brochures, ads, and other marketing and consumer education materials I see include a statement along these lines: “Even consumers who are strapped for cash can protect themselves against the risk of needing formal long-term care by using the money they now plow into coffee to pay for long-term care insurance.”

Other companies use similar “convert coffee money into premium money” suggestions in materials promoting life insurance, disability insurance, and many other worthwhile products and activities, such as supporting fine charities and cultural institutions.

National Underwriter Life & Underwriter, one of the publications that contributes content to this website, has run articles including suggestions of that nature since 1897.

The problem with the argument is that, for many people, drinking a nice, over-priced cup of coffee is one of the few reliable little pleasures they have the time, energy and money to enjoy.

Long hours and increasing demands (Why did you take 2 hours to respond to that e-mail? Where are those 7 tweets you’re supposed to tweet today?) are rapidly sucking the life force out of people who, at least temporarily, have money to spend.

The people who are still employed in this economy may not have enough time to take long, enjoyable walks in the neighborhood, go to a museum, soak their feet in herbal salts, cook a healthy gourmet meal, or breathe more than necessary to sustain life. They may have enough time to cram down food, of some kind; take care of their children well enough and often enough to keep the authorities at bay; and sleep often enough and long enough to prevent their eyes from turning red as cherries.

Their bosses are mad at them for bleating pitifully that, actually, they’re too tired to learn how to develop iPhone apps from scratch and create crackerjack apps “in their spare time.”

Their spouses are mad them for giving into the bosses and ending up agreeing to learn how to create iPhone apps, Google Android apps, and armies of sentient clones who will go out and whack prospects over the head with paper brochures. And trying to grow the clones in vats in the spare bedroom.

The baristas, in contrast, like the employed people, or pretend to like them, in a reliable fashion. All the employed people have to do to get those brief flashes of good cheer is to buy beverages regularly and leave respectable tips.

Note that the biggest coffee chain, Starbuck’s, is trying to persuade its customers to pay for their doses of caffein-linked friendliness by using a store-brand payment card system.

Thought: Instead of trying to get consumers to pay for insurance by giving up their regular visits to the people who still smile at them, why don’t LTCI carriers and distributors try to wiggle their way into the coffee card payment systems and get the baristas to smile regularly at people who are paying for insurance?

You figure: People who go to coffee places and spend, say, a minimum of $100 per year on coffee are probably reasonably healthy, able-bodied risks. No worse off than the workers who’ve been able to get group LTCI and group disability insurance through programs available to any worker who’s healthy enough to work.

Why not create some kind of mini, pay-as-you-go disability and LTCI program designed for coffee card users, and have consumers pay for the coverage with coffee cards?

The coverage could be written in a way that would minimize the guarantees being made and emphasize the “pennies in a coffee can” approach to saving for a rainy day. 

Maybe consumers could get $1 paid into a disability insurance/LTCI fund for every 10 coffees they buy at a coffee place in person and also pay for more coverage by feeding in more cash through the Web or while at the coffee place.

Maybe employers could feed cash into the cards through cafeteria plans.

Insurers could get young invincibles and harried older workers to submit to health screenings by offering occasional coffee place health fairs.

If the insurers want to further influence the coffee card insureds’ health, maybe they could give occasional healthy treats, such as free apples, to card holders who use their cards to buy what are believed to be healthy snacks rather than the snacks that appear to be pure junk.

To make the idea of having coffee card insurance even more appealing, maybe the insurers could enter the insureds in a sweepstakes. Each year, one or several winners would get, say, $10,000 in cash and a free trip to a warm, friendly place where many, many people would smile at them and laugh at their jokes.


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