Private long-term care insurers have been stumbling for years through the rubble left by bad underwriting assumptions and low interest rates.
When Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), moderated an insurance company executive panel discussion at a recent long-term care insurance (LTCI) producers conference, he asked about reasons for optimism.
The producers wanted to know why some of the insurers have been limiting LTCI sales.
See also: LTCI in the Doghouse.
One of the panelists, Tim Kneeland, president of Transamerica Long Term Care, started by acknowledging that the past few years have been challenging.
“It wasn’t fun on our side, and I know it wasn’t fun on your side,” Kneeland said.
But the CEOs also talked about about ways they think insurers can help get LTCI moving again.
Here are seven of their ideas, drawn from AALTCI’s recording of the discussion.
1. Have hope.
Kneeland said holding on to optimism is essential for anyone in insurance sales.
“You better wake up in the morning optimistic, because, every day, there are going to be plenty of things during the day that are going to challenge you.”
Kneeland said he gets a sense of optimism from watching agents and general agents developing new sales ideas and market-broadening strategies
Scott McKay, a senior vice president at Genworth Financial, said he’s starting to see an awakening inside the insurance industry about the importance of long-term care (LTC) planning.
“People are realizing that long-term care insurance now may be more important for much of the population than life insurance,” McKay said.
See also: Alzheimer’s panel short on funding ideas.
2. Keep talking to reporters, analysts and government officials.
LTCI has spent time in the media woodshed. Some nonprofit groups that have tried to address dementia care and LTC planning needs have dismissed private LTCI as a niche solution.
But Steve Sperka, president of Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, said he turned on the radio on his way to the LTCI conference and heard two radio reports about longevity risk.
Michael Hamilton, a vice president at Lincoln Financial Group, said he thinks people in the media and elsewhere are starting to notice that insurers offer much-needed solutions.
“We have got a relevance that hasn’t been there before,” Hamilton said.
Michael Doughty, general manager of John Hancock Life Insurance, said he sees more openness to dialog in Washington.
“There’s a real recognition there that things have to change,” Doughty said.
See also: Federal program boosts some states’ LTCI use.
3. Court a wider range of consumers.
Insurers once focused on selling expensive stand-alone LTCI policies that could meet just about all of a typical consumer’s LTCI needs, and life-LTC and annuity-LTC hybrids designed for consumers who could pump in hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash all at once.