November is LTC Awareness Month: Jump Start Your Clients’ Plans with a Conversation--Tips From Burling Insurance Group Long Term Care

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Industry expert Gail Steingold offers strategies on starting the LTC conversation.

“As wealth managers, financial planners and professionals, we know it is your mission and fiduciary responsibility to guide your clients in growing their nest egg and preserving their wealth for their current lifestyle and legacy.”

Listen up financial planners and wealth managers, here is a conversation you won’t want to miss having—the conversation with your client regarding their plan for long-term care. You are in your element talking to your clients about their financial and retirement plan, but how comfortable are you with fitting the likelihood of the need for extended care, particularly for your female client, into the discussion?

If the answer is “not so much,” let’s talk. November has been designated Long-Term Care Awareness Month, and Gail Steingold, owner and principal of Burling Insurance Group Long Term Care and 20-year veteran in the industry with prior long-term care rehabilitation experience, weighs in on the topic. She recommends that now is the time you start talking to your clients should extended care be needed down the road.

“As wealth managers, financial planners and professionals, we know it is your mission and fiduciary responsibility to guide your clients in growing their nest egg and preserving their wealth for their current lifestyle and legacy,” Steingold said. “However, when an LTC event occurs, requiring extended care due to the loss of the ability to perform activities of daily living and/or a deterioration of cognitive function compromising one’s safety, those plans or goals can drastically be derailed, even for wealthy clients.”

Long-Term Care Awareness Month is a time for your clients to analyze their current financial situations and prepare, rather than go into crisis management. To date, Steingold reports that the most comprehensive LTC planning tool is the “traditional” LTC insurance policy offered by such companies as John Hancock, Mutual of Omaha, Transamerica Life, Genworth Financial or MedAmerica. There are other solutions now available to wealth managers’ clients who may perceive traditional LTC insurance as a “dinosaur”: hybrid or linked Universal Life/LTC plans and annuities, critical care plans designed by LTC professionals or even concierge discounted home care and companion memberships (a non-insurance program) available nationally. The goal of each of these solutions is to ensure that everything a person has worked for and saved will be preserved and the availability of care advisory services for the family.

But before any of that can happen, you, the insurance/financial professional, need to have the conversation with them. Steingold recommends five points of discussion during that talk:

1.    Take the fear out of the discussion—Whether you are talking to your clients who may be an employee of a company, business owners, or retired, if they are afraid of the “what if,” or deny the possibility of having “the event,” or decide it’s best to self-insure, the conversation might not go anywhere. Steingold uses a proprietary software program called “Blueprint Solutions,” which visually displays the benefits that can be realized with some type of insurance.

2.    The LTC discovery process—Steingold stresses that like wealth and retirement goals, long-term care planning needs to be personalized and is not just about the finances. It is about consequences: lifestyle, the impact on the family and where care will take place. Is the home the best option? Where will your client be living in 10, 20 or 30 years? The conversation should include a plan regarding parents and in-laws, or other family members for whom your client has responsibility or concern.

3.    Plan now—It is critical to consider the age, gender and health of your clients. According to Steingold, the best time to begin the discussion is when clients are healthy, particularly in the current environment of more restrictive underwriting. “Insurance companies offering LTC have been in this business for over 35 years. They have data and trends as to what conditions lead to a claim,” she said. “After we reach our 30s or 40s, there is no perfect age. It is all about your health, your finances and your family,” Steingold said.

4.    Female clients—“LTC planning is a woman’s issue, in that woman are at the greatest risk for needing long-term care,” Steingold said. This is important to point out with the upcoming gender-specific pricing that is starting to take effect by all the major carriers, she added.

5.    Educate yourself—Steingold urges that wealth managers and financial planners educate themselves on long-term care planning and aligning with an LTC planning and insurance specialist, as well as caregiver professionals. “You would be surprised how much you can learn from someone who actually performs the care,” states Steingold, who has also worked as a licensed speech/language pathologist care in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home care.

About Burling Insurance Group LTC
Founded by Gail Steingold in 2003, Burling Insurance Group LTC is devoted to assisting the individual, financial advisor, employers and business owners in client long-term care planning options. Burling Insurance Group LTC develops personalized insurance solutions that enable individuals to maintain their quality of life and empower them to protect their financial security. Burling is owned by a professional who has firsthand experience with the financial and care challenges facing individuals requiring long-term care. Longstanding relationships with leading long-term care insurance carriers enable Burling specialists to craft plans for individuals, families, employer groups and associations nationwide. If you are an advisor looking to start the conversation or an employer looking to offer Long-Term Care education and a voluntary or paid plan to your employees in 2014, visit http://www.bigltc.com or call Gail Steingold at (312) 977-0024.

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