What to look for in an LTCI general agency

By Julie Gelbwaks Gewirtz

Gelbwaks Executive Marketing Corp.


As an insurance agent or advisor in today's marketplace, it is vital to align yourself with a first-class general agency in order to be successful in the long term care business. Agencies seem to be everywhere, and it can be tough to determine which one is best for you. So, what can you do that might help steer you in the right direction? Simple. Follow these ten steps and you are sure to be on your way to a perfect partnership.

No. 1: Find an agency that has developed strong relationships over time with all of the major carriers and has secured direct contracts. It is exceptionally important that the agency you choose is well thought of, and has clout when it comes to getting your most complicated issues solved. Contracting, underwriting, and claims can all be sticky subjects, but with the right connections, you will have a much easier time navigating through them.

No. 2: Make sure that they have a well-seasoned and knowledgeable staff. As most people know, LTCI is an extremely complicated product line with many nuances and a very rapidly changing environment. You need support from people who know and understand everything about it to keep you ahead of the pack.

No. 3: Look for a company that will offer you easy-to-use support material. When you are looking for a fast answer, quick reference guides and detailed product comparisons that are updated often can be the key to your success.

No. 4: Check to see if they have effective training options. Regularly scheduled classroom workshops, easy to access conference calls, and on demand recorded training should all be available. They ought to be generic as well as product specific, running the gamut of basic, intermediate, and advanced sessions.

No. 5: Ask if they will partner up with you to help you make a sale. Many times, there are situations where you just might not feel comfortable approaching the prospect on your own. Maybe you are new to the business. It could be that it is a multi-life sale or a combo product and you are not up-to-date on those situations. Whatever the case may be, if a staff member is available to assist you in presenting it could make all the difference in the world.

No. 6: Only deal with an agency that is using technologically advanced tools. In the world today, so much revolves around technology. E-newsletters with links to the most up-to-date information in the industry are vitally important. Look for access to online quoting, forms, and underwriting, as well as quick responses to everyday requests and sales ideas through e-mail.

No. 7: Locate an agency that also markets non-LTCI product lines. You never know when you may want to cross sell into a life, annuity, disability or Medicare supplement sale. It is much more effective to utilize a one stop shop for these types of situations. Keeping all of your contracts in one place narrows your confusion and makes life a whole lot simpler.

No. 8: Work with a national agency. There very well could be scenarios where you choose to make a presentation across state lines. Many sales today are made over the phone, utilizing e-mail, and through the mail. If you are not working with a company that is licensed and appointed in every state, in addition to being familiar with multiple state guidelines and product variations, you may find yourself in a difficult situation.

No. 9: Experience, experience, experience! Any agency can claim to be an LTCI specialist, but only the ones with a true history in this field will prosper. Find a company with at least 20 years of experience dedicated to the long term care industry. They will know and understand the past timeline of events, which inevitably will give them insight on the future and where we all should go from here. This will also help you in a big way when it comes to reviewing your prospects' older policies and giving them the advice and counsel they need.

No. 10: Make it a priority to deal with people who have strong ethics and morals. No one wants to work with a company that may drag them into litigation of some kind. Ask around. Check up on them. Get outside opinions. Do a Google search. It is essential for your survival as an agent or advisor.

There is one last but very important statement regarding finding the general agency for you. Work with people you like! If they make you smile and keep you happy, you know that you have found the right place to do business. Life is just too short to settle for anything less!

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