Nobody wants it…It’s too expensive…I tried it and the results were horrible…The last thing I want to do is jeopardize my existing business.
Who would say these things, and what do you think they are talking about? Answer: Benefit brokers talking about employer-sponsored long term care insurance.
Perception is reality. Understanding why benefit brokers feel this way about long term care insurance could move us toward helping millions of American employees solve a planning problem—one with devastating consequences most are not even thinking about.
With the CLASS Act scheduled to become effective January 1, 2011, every employer will be required to make decisions regarding long term care insurance. If private insurance is going to be part of the solution to the long term care crisis, benefit brokers need to be part of it. They have relationships and access to key decision-makers, which is the beginning of the sales process.
- It Hasn’t Been Done Right
Imagine playing table tennis with a tennis racquet. Assume all the rules of table tennis are the same except you need to hit the little ball with a tennis racquet. What’s the problem? Table tennis and tennis both have the word tennis in them and they both require you to hit a ball over a net with a racquet. Try this yourself and it will become painfully obvious you are at a disadvantage with the tennis racquet.
Well, selling long term care insurance and health insurance are both selling insurance, aren’t they? Yes, but there are differences, and those differences go a long way to explaining the results benefit brokers have experienced.
Let’s consider a few differences. Human resources executives know what health insurance is and they go through an analytical process of comparing premiums and features when making purchase decisions. There is no emotional involvement and there is a deadline for a decision. Long term care, on the other hand, is not understood, and it requires people to think about things they would rather avoid. You don’t really need to make a decision since you can do it any time. Long term care is way off in the future and it probably isn’t going to happen to you anyway, right? It’s probably something your parents should be thinking about.
Selling a product people don’t understand and don’t want requires a different sales approach. Salespeople need to be up to the task of asking personal, probing questions to get decision-makers emotionally engaged.
- Start with Education
Education drives success in long term care, and benefit brokers need to change from analytical sales techniques that work for their other lines to techniques that engage prospects emotionally. Rather than selling, you are guiding companies through an issue that can profoundly impact the people responsible for their business success. A concerted effort is required, and it will differentiate the broker who does it well.
The most common mistake brokers make with LTC insurance is delivering a proposal before a prospect understands the issue and connects emotionally. Rare is an executive level meeting where there isn’t a participant with his own story to share.
Employer presentations must engage prospects to talk about their own experiences, how they feel about their employees, and how they came to offer the benefits in their package.
Asking questions is the key as employers share their business philosophy about recruiting, rewarding and retaining top people. Providing education on the limitations of traditional health insurance, Medicare and disability insurance after talking about their own benefit package helps employers connect the dots to see the hole in the safety net.
- CLASS Versus Private Insurance
The first decision for employers is whether to participate in the CLASS Act. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of negatives about CLASS, according to both government and private experts.
CLASS is a one-size-fits-all program with a nominal benefit, projected to be more expensive than private insurance due to adverse selection. Private insurance, on the other hand, has limited underwriting to screen out those with significant medical conditions to control cost. Offering private insurance now locks in medical insurability and the least expensive age-based rates.
When CLASS does become available, policyholders can evaluate their private coverage from a position of strength and make decisions in their own best interest.
There will be a lot of press on CLASS, and benefit brokers need to start dripping information to their clients and prospects now, so that when it becomes available they don’t accept it at face value without considering coverage in the private market.
- Voluntary Versus Employer-Paid
Private long term care insurance benefit programs with underwriting concessions and discounted premiums can be implemented without cost to employers. And that is how to begin the conversation. After all, how many companies today are looking to spend more money on benefits?
With that said, once employers have been engaged on the issue and see the minimum contribution required to lock in discounts and the most favorable underwriting, many choose to contribute toward coverage. In some cases, however, there really is no budget, and that doesn’t mean brokers can’t provide value to clients and themselves if the program is sold properly.
- Commitment Starts at the Top
Voluntary long term care insurance enrollments offer tremendous benefits for employers and their employees; education at an early age, underwriting concessions that help people with pre-existing health issues get approved for coverage and premium discounts. Without buy-in from the top, however, it is difficult to get the level of cooperation needed to deliver maximum value. The primary success factor in implementing a long term care insurance benefit is the ability to get in front of employees with education. Buy-in at the top provides the commitment necessary for communications strategies, workshops, and one-on-one follow-up meetings during work hours needed for success.
- Different Profit Model
A discussion of long term care insurance would not be complete without talking about compensation. I’ve had brokers who introduced us to their clients for a commission split say that even if they received 100 percent of the commission, long term care does not generate enough income to make it worth their time.
No doubt it is a different model. As opposed to health insurance commissions that are level each year, commissions on long term care are high in the first year and low thereafter. Yet, unlike group health products, commissions on long term care are vested and premiums are the most persistent of all insurance products. Over the course of 10 or 15 years, a significant renewal premium can be built that will pay vested commissions for as long as employees live and continue to pay premiums. The business model needs to be looked at with, pardon the expression, a “long term” view.
- Opportunity Meets Need
Less than 1 percent of the 5 million employers with fewer than 1,000 employees offer coverage—thus, long term care is a wide open opportunity in the midst of a very competitive benefits marketplace.
The CLASS Act will require every employer to make decisions regarding long term care; and, as employees hear about it, they will begin asking questions. For employers, it is an opportunity to generate goodwill by demonstrating an understanding of the issue and providing informed guidance to their employees before questions begin. For benefit advisors, it’s an opportunity to create a new source of revenue and add to their value proposition.
Understanding the details of CLASS and how it compares to private insurance is the starting point for employers. As we move closer to the implementation of CLASS you can be sure someone will be calling your clients to discuss long term care. Shouldn’t that person be you?
Empower helps employers of all sizes implement long-term care insurance benefit programs in the workplace and conducts workshops & educational classes concerning LTC and the CLASS Act for employers and employees. If you would like to know more about the CLASS Act and how it might impact your company call us.
We also provide resources, training, and assistance to brokers looking to educate and help their clients with Long Term Care and understanding the CLASS Act.
Tags: Class Program, Community living Services and Supports Act, Education for long-term care, Employee benefits, Employee recruiting strategies, Employer sponsored benefits, Executive benefits, Federal long-term care legislation, group long term care insurance, long term care insurance plan, long term care insurance quote, Long-term care education, Long-term care insurance tax advantages, Long-term care planning strategies, LTC, LTCI, Nursing home insurance, Opt out long-term care insurance, Paying for home health care, Paying for nursing homes, Tax advantages of long-term care planning, Voluntary long-term care insurance, Wealth preservation, worksite Long Term Care, worksite Long Term Care Assisted living | Filed under: Class Act, worksite Long Term Care