Gary Bleetstein, ASG Partner-Oct. 2019

 

There has been as you know much discussion and questions as to why there is such a fuss being made about PBR- Principle Based Reserves and the 2017 CSO Mortality Tables.

 

Well, the fuss is because effective December 31, 2019 – ALL CURRENT LIFE PRODUCTS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN ADJUSTED CANNOT BE ISSUED ANY LONGER!

 

Principle Based Reserving – PBR is an NAIC requirement effective January 1,2020 that states a carrier must have compliant products or the old non-compliant products may not be permitted to be issued. For over 100 years, products were reserved based on actuarial assumptions. The new PRB is a required modeling valuation based on new technology, product pricing and reserves which are based on a Given reserve structure throughout the industry.

 

The 2017 CSO rules which give the Insurer’s in calcultaing cash values, statuartor reserves and pricing.

 

So why such as fuss ?

 

The fuss is really over which products and which carriers will have approved products by January 1, 2020, and the big issue is which carriers will have completed the re-pricing and what products will be availabe where and when ?

 

Consensus is that term pricing may be reduced and permanent product pricing may decrease or increase but in no case substantially.

 

In other words, the industry expects products that are re-priced should look similar to those being sold today.

 

At ASG, we will try and send updates on a regular basis to keep you informed about the products and availablilty and we also have a link on our website to assist you with questions.

 

 

Congratulations, it’s your birthday in September and you are a year older.  The bad news is that your cost for life insurance has increased.  Don’t put off protecting your family and business – It only cost pennies a day.

 

Perhaps too many of us, as professional advisors, complicate the message and create confusion to demonstrate our professional expertise. Did you ever consider that this only serves to create confusion, leaving the client completely bewildered and unable to make a decision.  

 

The “Keep it Simple” approach still works and not only results in a sale, but also establishes an advisor/client relationship that will continue into the future.  It is this type of relationship that creates a base for bonding between the advisor and client that will continue into the future.

 

Engagement is the next most important factor in growing a strong network of clients that will help you grow your client base.  Check in with your term policyholders as they near the maturity of their level premium term duration.  Review their business to determine if changes are needed.  Advisors need to be pro-active doctors and not wait for the patient to call with chest pains. 


September is Life Insurance Awareness month.  Advisors, it’s time to give a shout out to all of your clients and let them know your interested in the health of their life insurance program.  After all, you know they’re not going to call you.

Jay Scheiner, Partner, Agent Support Group-August, 2019

 

“Your Long-Term Care Insurance Rate Spiked. Now What?”

According to the New York Times, about twenty years ago insurers blundered by failing to predict the future: “Not only did they underestimate how long policyholders would live, they overestimated how many people would drop their policies, which meant insurers would not have to pay claims.” As a result, premiums for stand-alone Long-Term Care (LTC) policies have been steadily increasing.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/23/your-money/long-term-care-insurance-prices.amp.html

 

Even mere rumors of rate hikes lead to anxious calls to insurance advisors from policyholders unsure of what to do about their existing policies. These conversations are stressful for everyone involved. The clients, who are generally older, have few options other than keeping the coverage and paying higher rates, or reducing their benefits with the goal of minimizing premium increases.

 

Traditional Stand-Alone LTC has several major weaknesses:

–         An insured who dies suddenly or after only a brief illness never benefits from the insurance

–         Premiums are not contractually guaranteed – insurers underestimated the number of insureds that would go on claim, resulting in premium increases that forced clients to search for ways to afford maintaining their LTC policies.

–     The policies were almost exclusively based on a reimbursement model rather than indemnity.

 

The new generation of LTC policies eliminates the shortcomings of the prior generation of products. Clients may now choose contracts that have:

–         A pool of money available to fund a set amount of benefit, whether the insured ends up using LTC services or dies without having gone on claim.  The client can choose a policy where the total pool of funds is the same for LTC and death benefit, or opt for a greater pool for LTC dollars than life insurance.

–         Premiums that can be contractually guaranteed for up to the life of the insured with no possibility of rate increases, eliminating the angst experienced by the holders of non-guaranteed premium products.  Policies can be purchased as single-payments, 10-pay, or under a variety of flexible funding scenarios.

–         Indemnity models are now available in addition to the traditional reimbursement policies.

 

Conclusion:  Advisors should be sensitive to the plight of those who own older LTC contracts. Offer solid advice, and separate fact from fiction.  While much of what is reported in the financial press is justified (pointing out the weaknesses in the earlier contracts), the need to plan continues to increase.  Clients now have options in policies with lifetime contractual guarantees, a certainty of payment for both extended care and death benefit, and the choice of indemnity or reimbursement models.

At Agent Support Group we are here to help you navigate through the complexities of long-term care funding for your clients.

Go West Young Man!


by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU, CLTC- July, 2019 ASG Insight

The iconic phrase “Go West Young Man,” was coined by Horace Greeley in the mid 1880’s. It concerned America’s expansion westward and the opportunities that existed for people to find their fortunes.

Today, a huge opportunity exists for the Insurance Advisor and you don’t have to go west to get it. In fact, you can go East, West, North or South. I’m referring to the Policy Audit space. Policy Reviews (or audits), are at an all-time high on the opportunity scale.

The best part of conducting policy audits is that the person we are talking to is already a buyer. Our goal is to see if we can create an outcome that either lowers cost, gives greater value or addresses new needs that could have come up since they last purchased their insurance.

When looking at current policies, there are many reasons why the Policy Audit is important. The life insurance industry has changed dramatically over the last few years. There have been many product innovations, especially through the introduction of living benefits.

In short, when trying to start the conversation of Policy Audits, a good question to ask is…” Do you have the old kind of insurance or the new kind?” That should easily get the client interested. This is a great chance to introduce some of the newer living benefits such as Long Term Care, Chronic Illness or Return of Premium Riders that were likely not available when the original policies were issued.

Here are some other areas where a Policy Audit can help:

Health Changes – it always pays to look at a policy issue class and understand why a policy was originally rated. With advances in underwriting, many risks are assessed more favorably today.

Rescue underwater contracts – Older contracts that had poor guarantees or are simply underperforming, such as UL & VUL contracts, can be replaced with stronger, sometimes full guarantees.

Needs change – The original intended purpose for the insurance could have changed. Perhaps It was designed to replace income when children were younger and are now grown. The need can now be lessened and repurposed into a newer plan with benefits like a Long Term Care Rider that better suits their current changed need.

Ownership & Beneficiary Issues – Often times there is improper ownership or beneficiary arrangements. Without making changes, there can be unintended tax and legal consequences.

Policies can be sold – For older insureds that once purchased policies that are no longer needed, don’t settle for cash surrender values. There may be a chance to sell the policy as a life settlement. This option should be explored as it may yield a significant windfall for the policy owner.

1035 Exchanges – One of the largest opportunities today is to utilize cash surrender proceeds and 1035 those funds into a newer contract with LTC Riders. This can act as a huge subsidy by providing LTC benefits at a greatly reduced cost.

This just scratches the surface when it comes to the opportunities that exist with Policy Audits. The problem is that advisors are not using them enough. As Horace said, GO WEST (the East, North & South as well).

If you want to learn more about how to use Policy Audits in your practice and increase your sales, click here and join us on August 14th at 10:00 AM for our next webinar…TAKING THE BITE OUT OF POLICY AUDITS.

Gary Bleetstein, Partner-Agent Support Group

June, 2019

 

As Geico advertises with its Hump Day and Camel Advertisement, Do You Know What Day It Is?

Being in the Life Insurance business, as you all know, our days are busy with constant interruptions from clients, carriers, vendors, even sometimes advisors and we tend to forget what our jobs and careers are really about.

This month, June 28th is National Insurance Awareness Day and my belief is sometimes we need to sit back, slow down and remember what it is we should be doing.

As life insurance professionals and advisors, we certainly have all of the tools of the trade to make as many of friends, family and business associates aware of how special life insurance is and can be in many situations.

Life Insurance sold properly can save families from financial disaster, help those with Long Term Care needs to assist with the high costs of medical care, keep a business afloat after the death of a partner or key person and so on. I remember the first time I delivered a death claim and thought this was the worst possible thing to happen. Well, I was wrong and the widow who I gave the proceeds to and I are still close friends. The check saved her life as there were 4 children and little assets other than the life insurance.

Furthermore, where can you buy a financial product, have tax free accumulation of cash, and have a tax free death benefit paid? Where can you buy a product that has guaranteed rates not to increase, guaranteed current or future income with excellent tax avoidance?

Why are there so many people in our country that are either not insured or under insured? Why to so many advisors and prospective clients not understand how life insurance is for the living, not the dead. Life Insurance, LTC, Annuities and Disability products provide excellent solutions to many future problems, yet we continue to get information that so many people in this country have no insurance.

So let’s all celebrate our great industry and products, and begin talking about the needs for Life Insurance products and remember that June 28th is National Insurance Awareness Day.

by: Sam Kaufman, Partner

Agent Support Group-May, 2019 ASG Insight

 

 

 

Now that April 15th has past and we have all seen the actual impact of the Tax Reform Act of 2018 we can move forward and implement planning concepts with more peace of mind.   Life insurance continues to maintain a leading position as a tax favored vehicle for accumulation.    Although many advisors have been prone to favor GUL type products in the death benefit sale, IUL is quickly gaining traction as the vehicle of choice for supplemental retirement planning.

“Bridge Products” provide a guaranteed death benefit to age 85-90 with some having the ability to provide a lifetime guaranteed death benefit.    Contrary to GUL which has minimal or no cash value accumulation, IUL provides cash value accumulation that may be used for alternative needs as our life changes.   You have the stability of a guaranteed death benefit to life expectancy or beyond while enjoying the benefit of cash value accumulation for supplemental retirement needs.

This takes me back to when I first entered the life insurance business and there was only a choice of two products, whole life and term.   Some pundits would exploit the virtues of “Buy Term and Invest the Difference”, which had you done it 40 years ago would have worked out well.   However, most never invested the “rest” and have seen their term costs rise as they aged.   Whole Life was the original combination of term and investment under one umbrella.   Most advisors nor their clients viewed interest rates, mortality or general expenses as having minimal, if any, impact on performance.   If you are old enough to remember Flit craft, there was never a projected dividend schedule that was not far surpassed by the actual dividends paid.

Warren Buffet stated that had you invested 10,000 in an Index Fund in 1942 it would be worth 51 million today (CNBC Feb. 25, 2019).   If we follow the Oracle of Omaha’s wisdom and the pundits of “Buy Term and Invest the Difference” then IUL becomes the product of choice.    Add to that the ability to dial the guaranteed death benefit longevity and you have the perfect product today that can protect you and your family financially.

Life insurance products have become living financial instruments.   The modern day advisor needs to think about diversification of products within a client’s portfolio to achieve the best balanced financial results.   Think about blending products with GUL as an anchor, IUL as a conservative investments and whole life which tends to be more responsive to interest rate fluctuations.    Think out of the box, your client will appreciate the added value.

The sales team at ASG is here to help you implement a customized life insurance program for your client.  It’s more than just making the sale.

 

 

Jay Scheiner, Partner, Agent Support Group

April, 2019

 

You are an insurance advisor meeting for the first time with your new clients, Jim and Deb.  You asked them to bring, among other documents, their current insurance policies and their Wills to the meeting. This married couple, around 40 years old, have twin daughters, Dana and Donna, age 10. While reviewing their current life insurance policies, you notice that their beneficiary designations are not what they should be.

 

 Jim’ s Policy

Primary Beneficiary: Deb, spouse of the insured

Contingent Beneficiaries: Dana & Donna, children of the insured

 

Your clients should not name their minor children as direct or contingent beneficiaries, since a life insurance company can’t pay out proceeds directly to children until the children reach the age of majority, typically 18 or 21, depending on state law.

In most jurisdictions, to protect the interests of a minor, state law requires appointment of a guardian or trustee to administer proceeds payable to the child.  Appointment proceedings will delay access to the death proceeds and generate unnecessary legal and administrative expenses.  As important, the fiduciary named by the court may not be the one the insured would have chosen if they had made this decision during their lifetime.

 Deb’ s Policy

Primary Beneficiary: Jim, spouse of the insured

Contingent Beneficiaries: (none indicated)

Your clients should designate a contingent beneficiary in all of their life insurance policies, and the beneficiary designation should be worded in a way that will best benefit their children.

Having no named contingent beneficiary is the same as naming the insured’s estate as the beneficiary.  Is this a bad thing? It can be; in the absence of a Will designating a guardian or trustee, the courts will intervene, which may cause long, frustrating delays. The courts could also impose restrictions on how the proceeds will be spent or distributed, which may be contrary to what the insured would have wanted for their children.

While Jim and Deb will go to great lengths to protect their children (that’s a major reason they purchased the life insurance), they need you, the insurance advisor, to help them find appropriate solutions. It is therefore important that the beneficiary designations allow for the distribution of the life insurance proceeds in the most disciplined manner possible to provide maximum benefit to their children when the parents are gone.

Okay – here are some practical ways to ensure that minors, through the people entrusted with their care, have access to the life insurance proceeds intended for them.

  • Make the contingent beneficiary of  the insured’s  life insurance policy a

Testamentary  Trust in the insured’s Will.  The terms of your client’s Will can contain this Trust, which does not spring to life until the death of the insured.  Referencing the Trust in the Will is a precise way to ensure that the parent’s exact wishes for their children are followed. The Trust, which is a legal document, names the person the insured chooses as the Trustee, and describes how the parent would like to have the money managed and

spent, and for how long. An 18-year-old may be an adult under the laws of many states, but the client’s testamentary trust could be written to keep the newly-minted adult from frittering the money away before he or she is 25 or 30.

In our example, the contingent beneficiary section of the life insurance application would state: (Trustee’s Name) as Trustee under (Article X) of (Jim or Deb’s) Last Will and Testament dated (January 1, 20XX).

  • Taking advantage of the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) is an excellent way to ensure that children receive proceeds from a life insurance policy, especially if the parents have not yet executed their Wills. Under the UTMA, the parents would name an adult custodian who is given the discretion to make distributions for the minor’s welfare. The UTMA account (which is essentially a statutory Trust) allows parents to choose a custodian—a person they trust—who would manage the life insurance death proceeds, and other assets they might have in the account, as they see fit prior to the children’s reaching majority.

Some insurers have a specific form to assist in making a beneficiary designation with

UTMA custodian the beneficiary or contingent beneficiary of a life insurance policy.

If no special form is available, the following wording would generally be accepted: (Custodian’s Name) as custodian for (child’s name) under the (State) Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. However, you should confirm with the insurance company the specific wording they would accept.

  • Designate a Living Trust as beneficiary or contingent beneficiary in place of the child directly. This is similar to the Testamentary Trust referenced above, except that a Living Trust exists at the moment it is executed, whereas the Trust in the client’s Will (Testamentary Trust) begins its life only at the insured’s death.  Like the Trust in a Will, a Living Trust allows the insured to detail the terms and conditions of gifts and plan for every contingency. The downside of this type of Trust is that it will require some level of administration from the outset.  If your client has a child with special needs, your client should have a Living Trust. If their net worth is in the tens of millions, it’s a no-brainer, and in that case the Trust should be irrevocable.

Conclusion: Your clients rely on you to help them make good decisions with respect to their life insurance. These skills can separate you from those less knowledgeable. Your ability to immediately spot planning flaws (minor children as direct beneficiaries or silence as to contingent beneficiaries) may get your client to open up to you and begin talking about what is important to them.  Your understanding of, and the ability to explain the various beneficiary options is just one of many skill sets you should possess. While it may seem like a big job to get this step right, keep in mind that not doing so could have repercussions for your clients’ heirs for many years to come.

by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU, CLTC-March 2019 ASG Insight

 

One of the biggest problems facing the life insurance agent is the ability to add value to the sale.  The worst thing we can do is to commoditize the sales we make.   What do I mean?  Let’s say we have a client that calls up and asks for $500,000 of 20 Year Term.  For a 40-year-old male in good health (assuming Preferred Non Smoker Rates), the premium would be $575 annually.  We can fill the order and simply move on.  Give him what he asked for.  But what have we done?   We just commoditized that sale.

The next year, that client is approached by some other “insurance guy,’’ and he sells him a new 20 Year Term for $550.  There is no loyalty on behalf of that client.  It was just a transaction.   In the above example, that $500,000 20 Year Term was probably purchased to protect a mortgage so the house will be paid off in the event of a premature death.

Now let’s rewind to that original request.  We didn’t just “fill the order.”  We sat with the client and asked what he needed the insurance for.  He is married and has two small children, ages 6 & 4. The wife is a stay at home mom and had no immediate plans to go back to work. As we mentioned, the $500,000 was needed to pay off that mortgage.  Now what???

I like to use a yellow pad at the point of sale.  I always ask the question, what happens after the mortgage is paid off?  Don’t you have other monthly expenses?  So, I take out the pen, start listening and wouldn’t you know it, they start telling me what other expenses they have.  Here’s a typical example, assuming a mortgage has been paid off by the initial Life Insurance proceeds…

 

 

This starts a whole new conversation and brings up an entirely different line of questioning…

  1. Do you want your spouse to be forced to go back to work?
  2. Who is going to take care of the kids?
  3. Wouldn’t it be great to have options?
  4. How long would you want to continue replacement income?

The list can go on and on.  The larger the expenses, the larger the policy size.  Besides, most people relate more to a monthly income number rather than to a very large death benefit that in most situations they feel is excessive.  The point in all of this is to take the commodity of the sale and make it more meaningful.  They are giving you the answers to the above questions and they are telling you what the monthly expenses are.  So now you can customize a plan to fit their individual needs.  In the example below, the client asked to have the $500,000 as an initial death benefit and then $4,100/month for 20 years.  Here is the result:

 

 

Had we just filled the order, the premium for the $500,000 of 20 Year Term would have been $575.  Now we are providing a total needed death benefit of $1,313,179 (which represents an initial lump sum of $500,000 and the balance paid out as a guaranteed monthly income of $4,100 for 20 years.

This amounts to a commissionable sale that is almost 2½ times the original request but of more importance, you have sold to the true needs of the client.  By doing this, you are taking on a larger advisory role and now this sale is so much more meaningful to the client and their family, it becomes virtually non-replaceable.

You can also add another layer to this sale by including an additional lump that is payable at the end of the income period.  Below is a chart illustrating the premium for various age and payout options…

 

 

I have always been a fan of consultative selling.  This approach adds significant value to the sales process.  It is huge client retention tool by making what you have put in place, virtually non-replaceable.    Clients understand that their policy is not just “paying off their mortgage.”  It means so much more.    Their families can continue to live an unimpeded lifestyle that they were accustomed to living.  It allows choices that would ordinarily be in jeopardy if not for putting together a properly designed plan.

The best part about it is that THEY are telling you what they need and that’s what makes it even more powerful.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you take the commodity out of the sale, reach out to us today.

 

 

By: Gary Bleetstein- February, 2019 ASG Insight

 

 

The debate continues in the life underwriting as to how the use of Cannabis should be treated for Underwriting purposes.

 Today, Marijuana use is the third most used drug in the US- just after Alcohol use which is legal in all states.

Here are some facts about marijuana use in the US and Canada

Canada has recently as federal law permitted recreational use of Marijuana in many forms in all areas of the Country

In the US- 

·        25 states permit medicinal marijuana

·        18 states have broad laws for marijuana

·        12 states allow for recreational use and more states are adopting laws for recreational use every week

Here are some other facts about use in the US

·        10.6 million people use marijuana 10 times a year

·        4 million people use marijuana twice a month

·        2.3 million people use marijuana once a week

·        5.4 million people use marijuana daily

Here is the Conundrum in underwriting marijuana use

·        Under Federal Law marijuana use and profits are illegal

·        Under state laws- it is legal

·        There are not enough facts about the use of marijuana and how it will effect long term or short term mortality

 Some other considerations include

·        Most carriers do NOT test for marijuana use

·        The industry does not know who is telling the truth on underwriting and medical questions

·        Many MD s do not as a practice put all marijuana use facts in the records

So what do you do if a client is using marijuana or in the marijuana business

·        Your client is best to tell the truth

·        Medical Marijuana use underwriting will be based on the reason the client has a marijuana prescription

·        For recreation use- we have seen offers from Best Class to STD based on amount of use

·        For client s investing or owners in the marijuana business- it will be extremely hard to get business coverage- they can in some cases get personal coverage

In closing – this is a very liquid and rapidly changing scene and your client should not be afraid to apply for life insurance- we recommend you call us first to pre-underwrite the situation.

 

 

By: Sam Kaufman- January, 2019 ASG Insight

 

Another year is in the books and 2019 has certainly gotten off to a rapid start on all fronts.   In Washington, we have had the longest Government shutdown in history and in our industry many changes loom on the horizon that will affect how we do business.    For me personally, I enter my 50th year in this industry having seen brokerage evolve into a major segment of the industry from what were no more than corner stores.    It has been a great career and I look forward to the challenges ahead.   

 

Technology will be the biggest contributor to change this year and for many years to come.  I remember my first Wang Computer and how many of my colleagues looked at me as though I came straight from outer space.   The days of the carbon copy were replaced by the photocopy and e-mail has become the primary means of business communication.   Advertising took to digital media and the catalogues you would receive are now sent over the internet.   All this while the life insurance industry remained far behind others in the financial service industry. 

 

Advisors will need to adopt new ways of doing business and remaining engaged with their clients.    Accelerated forms of underwriting that make use of multiple databases and artificial intelligence will continue to grow and advisors will need to get up to speed on their utilization to keep pace with the demands of their clients for shorter and less intrusive methods of obtaining life insurance.   At ASG our goal is to bring the most current methods of transacting business to the advisor and their clients.             

 

On the legislative front, an in depth review of AG 49 in response to multipliers and other features that have been added to Indexed Universal Life policies will undoubtedly bring changes in the way IUL is illustrated.    Existing IUL policyholders will be seeing changes to Caps and Participation Limits as the cost for the underlying options increase.    Expect to see the introduction of new IUL products as the marketplace recognizes IUL as a mainstream product.   

 

Like everything today, we all need to remain up to speed.  ASG is dedicated to being ahead of the curve and through our affiliation with Lifemark Partners will bring you the most current technology and sales support tools.