Rachel Faiga

Rachel Faiga is the founder of Long-Term Planning Associates LLC, a specialty insurance brokerage firm located in Fairfield, Conn.

Faiga has been consistently ranked in the top echelon of long-term care insurance (LTCI) agents by the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance.

Faiga was the top multi-life agent in 2008 and the number 1 agent overall nationwide in 2007. She has sold LTCI only for almost 24 years.

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

Everything at this point comes to me by referral, so I don’t do a lot of cold calls or calling leads. I would say I call an average of 20 new people a week, all by referrals. I’ve been doing LTCI exclusively for almost 24 years, and so I have created relationships with many contacts and referrals sources…everyone from financial planners to accountants to care managers to other agents, and so on. I can do a better job for them when looking at the whole picture.

I’ve done a lot of speaking too. I would say that 25% of my referrals come from existing clients, and 75% from existing referral sources.

The best marketing is to referral sources…it takes a long time. You have to earn their trust. It’s all about relationships.

By the time people are looking into LTCI, there’s already other people/advisors they know, so you’re either competing with those advisors or working with them. I see myself as part of a team, as part of the picture. Do you know those things that you lay at the bottom of a door to keep the drafts out? I see myself as that – for other financial advisors. I block the draft – which is the crack in the plan for their clients that will allow other advisors in if it’s not blocked.

Other agents sell LTCI to open the door to a new client, then they go after everything else. My professional referral sources know I’m not going after any other sales other than LTCI, and I will tip them off if I think there’s another product sale to be made. When a client asks me about life insurance, I call the referral source.

They also know I won’t be overly aggressive with their clients, and they’ll be in good hands.

One referral source took me 14 years to cultivate, but now I get regular referrals from him. Some employee benefit brokers (EBB) are now using LTCI as a door opener to groups – their only real goal is to get the health insurance away from the existing broker. One EBB that I’ve been recruiting as a referral source for years finally brought me in – too late. Another agent was in there closing LTCI. The other agent got the LTCI, then the health insurance.

When I hear that a prospect has another advisor, I try to meet with their advisor. They may not be willing to work with me. It really depends on the financial planner…the right person for me to work with is someone who is focused on their business, and successful enough in their professional life, that they don’t need to do everything themselves. The advisors who refer to me are comfortable using trusted resources to supplement their business.

I’ve written LTCI for people in other states, I’m perfectly happy on the phone. The referring advisors have clients in other states. People love the phone and screen-sharing appointments.

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

37 years old. I started in this business at age 26.

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

To the extent that we can know anything I want to empower my loved ones to make the decision that is most appropriate for me when I need care.

My goal is to stay in a setting that I would prefer, such as home or a lovely assisted living facility. I know sometimes a nursing home is the most appropriate, and I would want a good one with some private-duty care. I don’t want to fall through the cracks. I want my kids or grandkids to oversee the decision knowing they can decide to do what’s best for me.

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

I have never worked for one company, which was tough at the beginning, since I was pretty much on my own. I really take a look at what fits for each person – Partnership, shared plan, cash.

Price is not everything. If you looked at my last 100 clients, there’s a variety of companies and product designs.

5. How many claims have you seen?

We actively service claims here. To be able to do this in a HIPAA world, we send out disclosure forms in advance so that we can talk with family members or friends of the client when they call in… Otherwise, we can’t talk to her kids. We have a case now where someone has a 10-pay policy and it’s lapsing because she hasn’t paid the 10th year’s premium, and no one is responding to our communications.

You’re not dealing with the policyholder. Often, you’re dealing with their kids. HIPAA [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] has tied my hands behind my back. Anyone can sell a policy, but to be able to help family members at time of claim is one of the things we do to service clients. We make a copy of my business card and the schedule page, and ask the client to give it whomever it might be who will be able to help them at claim time (attorney, friend, son, daughter). I get a lot of calls asking, “Do I need this now?”

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

I was going to be a gynecologist. Life happens!

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

I think I would like to throw pottery and take drum lessons.

8. What’s your favorite drink?

Water.

9. What makes you happy?

Family and friends.

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

Act! contact management software. I started using it in 1996, and we tailored it to what we need. It allows me to be effective, efficient and productive.

11. IPhone, Blackberry or other?

Still with a Blackberry.

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

Probably 20. I have a kid in college, a kid about to go to college and a 7-year-old.

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