We have lost another dear friend—a corporate helpmate that professed a strong commitment to LTC risk abatement. A long term partner in our continuing struggle to mitigate a potential catastrophic lifestyle event.
As we age, we come in contact on a more frequent basis with the abrupt and permanent exit of our dwindling number of close personal friends. Of course, these are events we cannot control or prevent. An appropriate period of mourning should take place fueled by grief and a sincere sense of loss.
After the dramatic and unexpected departure of those close to us, all the usual questions arise: What does this tragic demise mean to me? What are the broader implications of this new and final departure?
During the last 18 months those of us in the LTC insurance business have had to process these basic questions on multiple occasions. Immediately after our most recent loss, I left the country for 10 days on a richly deserved vacation where my most important consideration was my drink selection at the swim-up bar. Therefore, I missed the traditional gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands which follows the exit of a prominent player in the market. When I returned the residual burning question was: Is this the beginning of the end?
Absolutely, positively, unequivocally No!
By definition those who read this column are permanent lifetime members in a very special club with an extremely strong indigenous affinity. You Care! In truth this is the common denominator for all those who feature the LTC risk prominently in their professional practice. Yet in our quiet moments when we are alone, we know the truth of our concerns—this is a business, after all, and the tail on a LTC insurance claim is elusive, ill-defined and hidden in the midst of Alzheimer’s and future service delivery.
If you cannot make money, if this chosen line of business is unpopular in the financial front office, if the regulators are perceived as intractable, if you do not believe that long term investment return will improve and if you are frankly just afraid of the claim: You need to quit!
You are welcome to depart without question or accusation. You are always welcome to leave the field of battle when you believe discretion to be a better form of valor. Unfortunately your original professions of altruism and customer service may be worn a little thin in the process.
The issues have always been pricing, reserves or claims; of course, we recognize these obvious realities or rationalizations. Unfortunately, because we care, we bought into the perception that the company also really wanted to help. If the problems were related to investments, reserves or claims, I can only kindly suggest these problems have always been present in the LTC insurance conundrum.
Historically we acknowledge that we have seen a shrinking universe of company and product options in the individual disability insurance market. That market did eventually stabilize and show steady growth because the product was priced more accurately based on substantial experience and adjusted benefit options.
Just in case there is anyone else waiting in the wings to throw in the towel, I would like to extend an open invitation to proceed to the exits without further delay.
If LTC insurance is simply just too hard or your commitment to stay the course too fragile, please forgive me for a small non-denominational humble heartfelt invocation: Please God, no more quitters!
Our supplication is an acknowledgement of an obvious undisputed truth: The problem grows and the government cannot and should not pay for those who can afford to pay. We are not immortal and our final departure may not be abrupt—we may linger. Medical and custodial inflation will not abate or change direction.
Insurance has been, is now and forever shall be the answer.
I may not know exactly what the insurance answer will look like or what it will cost in the future. I will, however, lay my head down tonight safe and secure in the knowledge that in the morning I will have an insurance product available that insulates my client from the grasp of government dependence—one that will always cost less than paying a catastrophic claim on their own.
Other than that I have no opinions on the subject.
Ronald R. Hagelman Jr., CLTC, CSA, LTCP
Hagelman has been a teacher, cattle rancher, agent, brokerage general agent, corporate consultant and home office executive. As a consultant he has created numerous individual and group insurance products. A nationally recognized motivational speaker, Hagelman has served on the LIMRA and Society of Actuaries LTCI committees and is past president of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, as well as a master trainer for the LTCP professional designation. He is president of Republic Marketing Group and a principal in the agent sales training company Hagelman-Barrie Sales Training Solutions. Hagelman can be reached at Hagelman Consulting, PO Box 310707, New Braunfels, TX 78131. Telephone: 830-620-4066. Email: email@example.com. Website: www.iltcicentral.com.com.