Encounters in the Wild with Long-Term Care Sales Agents

Retro black and white photo of a nicely dressed woman who recognizes a long-term care sales agent she met in the wild.

The takeaway.  In the wild, you may encounter a band of rogue long-term care sales agents who are more interested in getting the sale than in getting your needs met.  They’re in the minority, of course, but they’re out there.  Their sales tactics center around three themes that are insulting at best and untrue at worst.  Save yourself!  Watch your wallet!  Find another agent! 

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Bridal photo of the author with her mom.

My mom (RIP) and yours truly, 1980.

When I was a kid, my mom–who spent a rough-and-tumble career selling Los Angeles real estate–would drag me to sales rallies.  There, I’d occasionally hear about manipulative and insulting sales tactics that, according to the featured speakers, would increase sales in the short-run, but in the long-run kill sales careers. 

Sales is a numbers game, requiring a strong referral network and positive word-of-mouth.  It seems folks won’t send business to sales agents who are manipulative and insulting.  Who knew?  

In the wild:  the (not so) good, the bad, and the ugly.  

Explorer in the jungle, holding a map, and discovering rogue long-term care sales agents in the wild.

OMG!  I’m in Valley of the Rogues.  I gotta hide my wallet.

In the wild, and as part of this blog’s long-term care series, I’ve encountered some wily sales agents.  They haven’t yet figured out their sales tactics are killing their careers.  To be sure, these rogues are in the minority, but they’re out there. 

If you decide to purchase long-term care insurance, you may run into them yourself.  As such, and as a public service, I present my own experiences.  Your mileage may vary (hopefully for the better).

To be sure, these rogues are in the minority, but they’re out there.”

Three long-term care insurance themes used by rogue agents I’ve encountered.

Theme 1. With virtually no interest exploring what’s right for me, the agent asks why I’m interested in buying long-term care insurance. 

Up front, nearly all sales agents (good and bad) asked me why I was interested in buying long-term care insurance.  (That was a good thing.  It helped them determine what my needs were.) 

Black and white retro photo of man yelling into a microphone that rogue agents are presenting false info about what percentage of folks will need long-term care.

For the last time: saying 70% of folks will need long-term care is false!!

However, I soon realized that the jackpot answer was that I had a family member who required long-term care.  Apparently, I was told, with that answer, policies sell themselves.  But when I expressed needs that were more complex and nuanced, or even when I admitted to just being curious, I found the remaining sales pitch leaned long and hard on that misleading and outdated government statistic that 70% of folks will require long-term care.  

That.70%.is.misleading.at.best.and.FALSE.at.worst. 

Don’t take my word for it.  Check out the original research by the U.S. Health and Human Services–the group that actually measures these things.  See Tables 1 and 2.

(Or, for a more entertaining and reader friendly view, see Staring Down Your Long-Term Care Odds–Much Better News Than You Thought.  😉 )   I learned it was useless to discuss what the actual statistic was.  Agents simply dropped the topic and pivoted to Theme 2.

Theme 2. The agent critiques the quality of my comments with statements like those below.

Picture of an elaborate chandelier, presented as a contrast to when rogue agents imply you're not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

I’m thinking you’re just not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Gee, I’m just not used to being asked so many questions.  Translation:  You’re not the brightest bulb in the chandelier are you?  I first encountered this line with that sales agent who tried to sell me that particularly lousy policy described here. 

The goal with these wily coyotes was clearly to stop the questions and start the purchase.  If I resisted, or had more questions, or even slightly pushed back on anything that had been said, I learned to prepare for mention of the G-word.     

Sounds like you’re willing to gamble your future.  Translation:  “You’re irresponsible to yourself and/or your children if you don’t buy this policy–now.”  Even the good agents would at some point use the word “gamble.”  I guess they can’t help themselves.   A bigger gamble might be paying six figures for a policy that either won’t be needed, or if it is, will be needed for less than one year.

Theme 3. We’re done here:  (last shot at the sale).

Retro black and white photo of two businessmen, one shushing the other, implying that the one being shushed doesn't have enough money for long-term care.

You don’t have any money, do you?

You sound like you might be more comfortable in a public assistance facility.    Translation:  “Not only do you want something for nothing, but you can’t afford what I’m selling.  In fact, I’m not even sure why we’re talking.”  Sigh.  This was just one more negative motivator designed for me to prove the agent wrong.  To, in essence, prove I could indeed afford that policy by whipping out my AMEX.  

There were other trending themes, but these were by far the most common. 

There’s a lot of competition for the Boomer long-term care dollar. “

Compassion not contempt for these long-term care sales agents.

For the most part, I wasn’t distracted or offended by these reprobates.  I already knew these sales tactics were killing their sales careers.  Fortunately, most agents were like my mom, eager and willing to help because 1) it’s good business and 2) even if I didn’t buy, I might be more likely to give a positive referral to a friend who just might.  (It’s called paying it forward.) 

But enough about me, what about you?

Retro black and white photo of woman sitting behind the wheel of a car looking like she's large and in charge.

Puhleez!  Do you actually think those tactics work?!!

If you encounter these rogues, (and I hope you don’t), remember this:  there’s a lot of competition for the Boomer long-term care dollar.  Take your time to find the right agent and the right product.  Examine your options (including the option not to buy at all). 

Read (1) how to evaluate a long-term care policy  and 2) the three factors affecting your long-term care insurance costs.  If you’re on the fence about the whole thing all together, read about your odds of even needing long-term care. in the first place.

You’re in the driver’s seat.   They know it.  You know it. 

You got this.

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