When it comes to offering long-term care services, LTCI Partners of Chicago has to educate brokers and well as potential clients.
After what he calls “a bumpy couple of years” for long-term care because of the 2008 recession when this type of later-in-life insurance was not a huge priority for cash-strapped clients, Steve Cain, principal of LTCI, found that brokers needed guidance on how to pitch LTC to their potential clients and special technology to help with enrolling for this benefit.
At the Chicago-headquarters of LTCI, Cain says his team offers employee education and oversees enrollment capacity. “And then we service it on the back end, but the bottom line is I'm not seeing tremendous innovation in terms of the carriers investing in their technology,” he says.
Cain says that while carriers recognize that long-term care is an important part of the employee benefit portfolio, they're not investing in technology to make it easier to enroll for the benefit. “That's where we've just had to roll up our sleeves and build our own system,” he says. “Right now, we're really looking at carriers to manufacture the product, underwrite the risk and then we do everything else.”
LTCI’s original aim was to make enrolling for long-term care coverage the same as signing up for any other voluntary benefit. “Our overarching philosophy is let's make sure all the employees know that this is being offered,” he says.
The long-term care underwriter offers on-demand educational resources such as whiteboard videos, avatars for its online registration process, live and pre-recorded webinars, downloadable content and customized HTML emails. “When it's culturally the thing to do, then we'll do onsite group meetings, but we're finding more and more that employers are kind of bucking at [these in person] meetings,” says Cain.
LTCI tend to do more via email, webinars and sending employees to a microsite. “If they have a few questions, we end up doing a live chat,” he says.
LTCI’s prime demographic is a white collar employee who earns around $65,000 a year, but they will work with some blue collar industries. Many don’t usually look for long-term benefits, according to Cain. They often have trouble achieving a salary for these types of plans and many don’t have a company email account, which is how LTCI primarily interacts with employees.
Convincing millennials to sign up for long-term coverage is a stretch. If Cain or his colleagues has a potential client with a younger workforce, LTCI will typically promote the group life insurance offerings. With an older, more white-collar group, LTCI offers standalone or traditional long-term care offerings.
Right now, Cain and his team are looking at the sandwich generation, the employees in their 40s and 50s who care for their children and elderly parents simultaneously. “Look at me: I'm 43 years old. I've got a young family and an old mom who needs our help. I am acutely aware of long-term care. So in our employee communication we’re beginning to focus on that sandwich generation,” he says.
Brokers need their own LTC education as well. “We always joke that people are down on what they're not up on,” he says. Long-term care has been seen an ancillary benefit that has gone through some challenges over the last decade due to the recession and people cutting back on extended coverage.
“I totally understand why a broker would be reluctant [to offer long-term care] but once we educate the broker and provide some information about why it's more stable than it's ever been and why it fits into a financial wellness conversation, we're finding that the brokers jump on board,” he says.
Brokers have been busy and occupied since the recession, he says. “There's about 16, 18 different benefits that these brokers can offer. We're seeing huge increases in voluntary benefits and so it comes down to shelf space. You know, where does this fit in?”
As employee benefits become a strategic weapon in the employer’s arsenal for attracting and retaining talent, long-term care sends a strong message to the workforce, according to LTCI.
“This is a really symbolic benefit when you're buying as an employer for your key executives or your rank-and-file. You're sending them a message that I care about you,” says Cain. “Not just during your working years, but I want to make sure you're doing the right retirement planning and we're going to give you a head start by doing this.”
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