Insurance and health care professionals alike clearly see the need for people to own long term care insurance (LTC). As our population gets older in general and people live longer, the odds are rising dramatically that a given person will need anywhere from a few months to a few years of assisted living facility, in-home special care, or nursing-home services. In fact, at age 32 a person is 600% more likely to become disabled and need this kind of care than they are to die. That’s staggering.
Yet, if you are an insurance agent trying to sell LTC, such facts and figures aren’t going to cut it with most people even when you know they are a qualified prospect. Anyone in the insurance business knows the rejections that they get from people who need their products. Life insurance has always been the most-rejected of all types of insurance, but LTC may be taking over that mantle. The reasons people have for rejecting LTC are in fact similar to those encountered in the life insurance profession.
*People don’t want to think about the possibility of needing long term care. (People also don’t like to think about their own death.)
*People who are at the youngest age and health status to qualify for the best premiums on LTC are the very same people who are preoccupied with other things and feel they can’t afford it “right now” even though it will be much more expensive later on if they can even qualify for it later on. (The same thing holds true for life insurance.)
*People who are too young for it or who really don’t need it at the present time get it into their head that they will never need it and so, when they are ready, they reject it. (The same thing happens with life insurance.)
What are the kinds of things people say to reject LTC?
*”I am going to die in my sleep; it runs in the family.”
*”We have decided to stay in our house and take care of each other if this kind of thing happens to us.”
*”I take much better care of myself than the usual person does; this cannot happen to me.”
If a life insurance policy pays out, it means someone died. If a long term care policy is paying out, it means someone’s life and independence have been, at least for now, drastically compromised (and some, imagining themselves in that position, think they’d rather be dead). These are types of insurance that are very necessary but are very unpleasant to have to think about for most people. So they tend to put off the decision to buy when they can easily qualify and get low premiums until it becomes expensive and they possibly can’t even qualify. It’s called being in denial.
As an insurance agent, what can you do to overcome these attitudes and rejection statements?
First of all, it is very helpful to agents to use a well-designed visual chart or graph showing people the consequences of not having LTC and the cost of not buying it today. People are visual and intuitive by nature; just hearing about something that might happen to them at some undefined point in the future is an abstraction for a great many, no matter how much “reason” you use as an agent. But if they see it, they are far more likely to believe it and feel compelled to act–even if, as they make the purchase, they stay in denial verbally!
In conjunction with visuals, you can ask pointed, sensible questions that are likely about things they have never truly thought about before.
*”Let’s say that you are permanently injured in a car accident. How will you pay for the care that you need for the rest of your life?”
*”The average cost of LTC services in a skilled nursing home ranges anywhere from $77,000 to nearly $115,000 for just one year, and the average stay is two and a half years. Do you have enough money just lying around to day to pay for that? And what if your stay lasts five or even ten years?”
*Medicare has severe limitations on how much and for how long it will pay you, and for Medicaid you have to spend yourself into sheer poverty before it pays anything at all. Do you really want to rely on these programs?”
*Isn’t it your plan now to let your children and grandchildren inherit your assets when you die? What if there weren’t anything to inherit?”
*”If you or your spouse unexpectedly needed care and this cost you all of your savings, do you think the survivor would want to go live with your children?”
If you do a financial analysis, then present your visual presentation, and ask these pointed questions, the LTC need will sell itself. And if you still can’t close the sale, well…some people just never learn.