When hikers come across annoying pebbles, a giant log, or disgusting muck, they have to decide whether to find away over, or through, the obstacle, or brave the ticks and poison ivy and blaze a new trail.
Long-term care insurance (LTCI) specialists are a facing similar sorts of questions these days as they face the effects of low interest rates, tough new accounting rules and hard-won experience on the carriers that write LTCI products.
Some LTCI agents, brokers and consultants have toughed it out, worked harder and gotten great results.
In some cases, they may have benefited from bursts of sales generated by carrier pricing or underwriting changes that might be unpleasant for consumers in the long run but great for motivating wishy washy consumers to buy now in the short run.
Some of the diehards have been picking off great customers from producers who have succumbed to the gloom and the doom and fled from the business.
Other producers have gotten good results from putting more emphasis on selling disability insurance, critical illness insurance, Medicare supplement insurance, case management services, or caregiver support services.
Jesse Slome, for example, is still executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance — and he’s also executive director of the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance and the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance.
Marion Somers — aka Dr. Marion, aka The Lady with the Long-Term Care Planning Bus — talks about elder care and caregiver training on her website as well as LTC financial planning issues. Even in the LTC financial planning section, she lists three financial pillars” — LTC insurance, life and annuity products, and reverse mortgages.
John Wane, president of American Independent Marketing (AIM), a major LTCI distributor, continues to love distributing LTCI. The AIM website boasts “24-hour a day on-line access to all the LTCi marketing tools you need.”
But AIM makes sure to offer linked benefit, Medicare supplement and annuity products along with stand-alone LTCI products, and the brokerage now is devoting major efforts to critical illness market consumer education programs and materials, to help retail producers expand sales of the product.
Traditionally, wholesale brokers have relaxed and let insurers build product awareness.
Wane has been trying to help critical illness break out of niche product tier by creating his own guide to the product for the 2013 Kiplinger’s Retirement Guide and getting himself booked as a critical illness insurance expert on morning TV news shows.
Management consultants have noted that deciding when to diversify and when to work harder to maintain focus on a specific area can be complicated.