Executives talk about the middle-market consumer at a conference in New York. (LHP photo/Allison Bell)

Carrier executives had little to say about new long-term care insurance (LTCI) initiatives this week at the Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services insurance conference.

Some speakers mentioned the product when talking about the difficulty of managing insurer portfolios in an era of record low interest rates, or when discussing the effects of new insurance company financial standards on insurers’ ability to sell products that create long-term benefits obligations. The topic came up briefly during a session on efforts to sell more products to middle-market consumers.

William Wheeler, president for the Americas at MetLife, mentioned the concerns about interest rates but said the need for protection against long-term care (LTC) risk is as pressing as ever. MetLife stopped selling new LTCI coverage several years ago. The industry may eventually find a way to design an LTCI product that can help consumers but create less risk for the insurer, Wheeler said. 

Kenneth Janke, president of AFLAC U.S., said his company still has an LTCI unit. ”It’s very small, and we’re letting it shrink,” Janke said. “There’s a lot of risk there.” Janke said one problem has been changes in how parties interpret the terms carriers have used to refer to various types of LTC facilities in the policies.