In their quest to expand their long-term care (LTC) products lines, many insurers have been challenged not only by the risk management and underwriting aspects of the coverage, but they've also struggled with finding the best agents tp market this coverage.
When Springfield, Mass.-based insurance provider MassMutual examined its options for enhancing its LTC line, it did what any forward-thinking company would do: It sought third-party distributors that fully grasped the dynamics of LTC insurance.
Since launching its LTC division in 1999, MassMutual relied on career agents to drive sales. But it knew that to reach a higher level of performance, it needed to branch out. In 2003, MassMutual's launched an aggressive campaign when it began scouting for the most highly-qualified LTC producers.
The provider collected pertinent data on the best LTC producers, such as the products they sold and how long they had been in business. Pushing e-mails out to its producer target list, MassMutual included a downloadable "recruitment package" that contained testimonials from other producers about the strength and viability of MassMutual's LTC division, explains Judith Bramson, director of marketing for the LTC division, MassMutual.
Ultimately, MassMutual identified 140 LTC producers to join its growing network. These producers market LTC products using MassMutual's internally-developed Web property, Notaburden.com.
"This was the first time that a line of business at MassMutual went out to recruit producers," says Bramson. "We wanted to be the front-runner in LTC space, and that meant intensive recruiting." So far, all its efforts have led to 12,000 unique producer visitors to the site over the past 12 months. The company hopes to double the number of unique visitors over the next 12 months, says Bramson.
Notaburden.com offers a site map on a state-by-state basis that spell out terms and conditions about LTC in each state. A statistics library is offered as well as an "Ask The Experts" area, where producers who might have a question about an LTC coverage stipulation can submit inquiries to producers that have greater expertise about the coverage.
In the future, Bramson says MassMutual is planning to roll out other site enhancements, including "Refer a Colleague," where producers offer the name of a fellow producer they think would make a good candidate to join the network.
All of its efforts to enhance its LTC product line has greatly impacted MassMutual's selling opportunities. The company enjoyed a 15% increase in net premium in 2003 and is hoping to double that by end 2004.
Industrywide, the average age of LTC policyholders upon launching a contract is 56 years old; with MassMutual, the average age of LTC policyholder is 46 years old.
Other insurers have also gone the extra mile in reaching out to agents and brokers regarding LTC selling opportunities.
New York-based MetLife Resources, for instance, is regarded as the LTC market leader in the industry with a 31% marketshare.
One thing MetLife has done to enhance its selling program is provide brokers with a questionnaire that they can present to clients about LTC coverage. The questionnaire consists of eight questions and serves as the building block for an LTC plan structure, says James Driscoll, president of MetLife Resources.
"One thing we found is that the younger set of baby boomers who have been diligently accumulating assets for retirement, in no way do they want these assets to disintegrate if they suddenly have to look into assisted living after they retire," explains Driscoll. "Because when it comes to having to pay for a nursing home stay or for assisted living, it's certainly not cheap: In the northeast the average daily cost for a nursing-home stay is $200 a day, and sometimes this involves a multi-year stay. It's an unforeseen event that could be devastating to their retirement assets, so they protect their retirement funds by opening an LTC contract earlier in life."
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