As I go through my inbox every day, I’m seeing a distinct increase in the number of emails talking about long-term care (LTC). Having written about the importance of LTC for a number of years now, I find it satisfying that LTC is starting to become more and more of a topic that the industry is discussing. What surprises me the most though is that a lot of these messages have been focused on how hard it is to sell LTC, or how to overcome the objections that clients may have, and so on. OK, I get it. LTC isn’t the most pleasant topic to discuss – it’s probably even less pleasant than discussing life insurance. No one likes to think about being chronically ill and needing assistance to do everyday, basic things.
But I think there may be another reason why LTC is “hard” to sell – I just don’t think that most clients can really understand the need. Unless you’re one of the people who has watched a loved one go through a chronic illness and can really grasp what goes into it, it’s just an abstract concept. “Sure, the odds say I’ll need care at some point, but that won’t be me.” Sound familiar? (I may have even told myself the same thing, even though I know better!) We all can more easily visualize leaving our loved ones a death benefit after we pass away (life insurance) or comfortably retiring with enough money (annuities). It seems to me that the traditional LTC conversation would benefit from a different approach.
Traditionally, we’ve thrown numbers and statistics at clients. After all, LTC salespeople (myself included) are in love with statistics – 70% of us will need it, LTC costs this much per month in your state, and on and on. Stats are great, but can you see how they can fall on deaf ears for someone that doesn’t grasp the reality of a given topic? No? Let’s look at it in a slightly different way – how about if I told you the diameter of the observable universe was 28 x 109 parsecs (or 91 billion light-years), or that a 2004 Mustang GT has a displacement of 4606cc with 320 foot/lbs of torque at 4500rpm? Unless you’re an astrophysicist or an auto mechanic (or an enthusiast of either of those disciplines), those numbers don’t mean very much to you, do they? The universe is big, and a Mustang is fast. But do you grasp the reality of how big, or how fast? See what we’re up against? Do your clients really appreciate what both they AND their families will be up against if they need LTC down the road?
I think the conversation would go more easily if we kept it to concepts the average client can identify with; making the discussion more relatable. How about the concept everyone understands – time? For instance, maybe we should ask our clients to imagine the situation where a parent or loved one needed LTC, but didn’t have insurance and the burden of care fell to them. Ask them if they’re willing to change their life to provide that care – how many missed days of work does that mean? Late nights? Weekend plans cancelled? Because remember – caregiving for a chronically ill loved one doesn’t qualify as a Monday to Friday, 9-5 job. (Here come some stats!)
- 7 million informal and family caregivers provide care to someone who is ill, disabled, or aged in the U.S.
- Lost income and benefits over a caregiver’s lifetime is estimated to range from a total of $283,716 for men to $324,044 for women, or an average of $303,880.
Let’s use the concept of money. How about if your client just pays to have someone come in to take care of their loved one, or better yet, secures them a spot in a LTC facility? This is a great option, but without insurance, it can get very pricy; government assistance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare don’t help much (if at all). The cost for facility care can vary dramatically depending on location and services provided – in the best cases you’re probably looking at the cost of an average year of college tuition. In the worst cases, you could be looking at several times more than that. Even if their loved one moved in with the client, can the client afford to pay the costs of any modifications or special accommodations their loved ones may need to have made?
Maybe we should look at it from a loved one’s point of view. Let’s face it – many of the things that come with needing chronic care aren’t pretty. A loved one can lose the ability to perform many basic daily functions, such as eating, dressing, toileting, and the like. These can be uncomfortable and even embarrassing to have to ask for help with. Are these things such as eating, dressing, and toileting something a client’s loved one would be comfortable asking them for assistance with? Would the loved one want your client to see them like that? Wouldn’t it be better for their loved ones to maintain their dignity in those scenarios?
None of this is meant to scare your clients, but merely to impress the importance of having the conversation about LTC insurance now – because when it comes down to it, this is the ONLY time they can have this particular discussion. They won’t be able to have it later. The discussion will have changed. And frankly, THAT discussion won’t be anywhere NEAR as pleasant as the one you have today.
As we start to talk about LTC more and more, let’s work together to humanize these LTC discussions. For more sales ideas and product expertise, let Zenith be your LTC expert – make us the first call on your next case.