by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU
Principal, Agent Support Group-September Blog

 

September is Life Insurance Month and in the spirit of that, I felt it was important to repost the following…

Many years ago, while attending an industry meeting, I was listening to a talk being given by one of the platform speakers.  During the speech, the speaker was talking about the industry as a whole and the importance of what we do for a living. He then proceeded to read the following to the group:

A life insurance policy is just a time-yellowed piece of paper, with columns of figures and legal phrases, until it is baptized with a widow’s tears. Then it becomes a modern miracle, a sort of Aladdin’s Lamp.

It is food, clothing, shelter, education, piece of mind.

It is the sincerest love letter ever written.

It quiets the crying of a hungry baby at night. It eases the heart of a bereaved widow. It is the comforting whisper in the dark silent hours of the night. It is a new hope, fresh courage and strength for the widow to pick up the broken threads of life and carry on.

It is an education for the sons and daughters (a chance for a career, instead of the need for a job). It is a father’s parental blessing to his children on their wedding day. It is the function of a father’s hopes and dreams for his family’s future.

Through life insurance he lives on. There is no death. Life insurance exalts life and defeats death.

It is the premium we pay for the privilege of living after death.

Although it is a bit dated and arguably a bit corny, it is powerful nonetheless. This piece was written back in 1929 by Jack J. Leterman, who established the first John Hancock Agency in the state of Virginia. As a 30 year plus veteran in the industry, I was extremely taken back by these words and have had them framed in my office ever since. I take any opportunity to share these words with as many life insurance professionals as possible.

What we do is so unique and powerful. These words are the core of what we do and I believe today, more than ever, it is so important to spread the importance of these words to our clients. This is what life Insurance was intended to do but as we all know, it has become so much more than that.

Not only does it accomplish the most simplistic form of protection to surviving spouses and children such as, Income Replacement, Mortgage Protection, or College Funding. It provides solutions to a host of other, more complex problems facing our clients today. Whether we use Life Insurance to provide liquidity for heirs of larger estates, provide Supplemental Retirement Income, funding Buy/Sell Agreements, Key-Man Protection, etc., we are positioned to use this powerful product to find solutions to these, and other planning challenges.

With uncertainties surrounding us, it is a great feeling to know that we can provide so much in the form of “piece of mind” with a simple stroke of the pen.  Although the words above are over 80 years old, the core principles behind them truly capture What Life Insurance Really is.

It is Life Insurance Awareness Month so keep that in mind when you are speaking to your clients.  Perhaps this can further put things into perspective for them.

 

Find more of Mark’s Bark’s Blogs on our website: http://www.asglife.com/insurance-view/marks-barks-blog/

“GET THE DRUMS OUT”

By: Sam Kaufman
Partner, Agent Support Group

 

September is the month for advisors to get the drums out and march up the avenue to create awareness.   Advisors should be proud that the benefits paid from life insurance policies contribute to the wellbeing of American families across our great country.   Allowing families to continue undisrupted following the loss of a breadwinner.

However, somewhere we have all failed to beat the drums loud enough and over 40% of Americans remain without life insurance protection.    Why is such a large percentage of the population uninsured?   The most prominent reason is probably the fact that most advisors are not interested in writing a $500 annual premium even though they may be creating a future relationship that will purchase a larger policy later in life.  

Think about the New York Yankees, a team that was laden with aged plays two years ago.   Do the Yankee teams of the past resemble your client base, aged and not likely to purchase additional life insurance?  Everyone has marveled over the “Baby” Yankees, they hit, they run, they play baseball.    Just think how many home runs you could hit if your client base included some “Baby Bombers”. 

The second place advisors fail is in policyholder engagement.   As a General Agent we keep advisors informed about the status of the policies written with ASG.    We prepare reports detailing term policies that are approaching the end of their level premium period.   I hate to tell you where those reports go and where the later premium notices go.   Think what would happen if you called the client and they indicated they had another child or that they started a new business.  Perhaps this is old fashion, but it works.  

We need to be proud of the product we sell and take joy in the fact that life insurance provides the financial security for families and businesses to continue following a significant loss.   So get out there and march up the avenue beating your drums as loudly as possible this month.   Make more people aware of the services you provide and the need for financial security.  

by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU
Principal, Agent Support Group-8-17

 

 

We have all facilitated cases with 1035 Exchanges.  They are very simple.  A client has an old life insurance contract with cash surrender value.  We roll that money into a newly issued contract, carry over the cost basis and negate any taxation at the time of the transfer.  The benefits of the lump sum coming over usually acts as a subsidy to either lower future outlays, increase guarantees and in some cases rescue some under water or heavily leveraged contracts.

But in today’s robust product environment, we can add an additional layer of benefits that was previously not available.  There are a number of life insurance products today that offer Long Term Care or Chronic Illness Benefits.  These products come in a lot of different flavors:

  • LTC Rider (LTCR) add-ons for Guaranteed UL, Indexed UL or Whole Life
  • LTC Rider (LTCR) add-ons for Survivorship Guaranteed UL or Survivorship Whole Life
  • Chronic Illness Rider (CIR) add-ons for Guaranteed UL, Indexed UL or Whole Life
  • Blended Life Products (Single Pay or Limited/Flex Pay)
  • LTC Riders on Non-Qualified Annuity Contracts

 

Individual or Survivorship Products w/LTCR or CIRs:

For the most part, the life insurance contracts with an LTCR or CIR allow a facility to accept IRC §1035 Exchanges from any qualifying product.  The qualifications are usually limited to the new policy bearing the same Insured/Owner as the policy releasing the funds.   This should make the conversation fairly simple with most prospects.  If they have an existing product that offers only life insurance benefits and it has a Cash Surrender Value, you can provide another layer of living benefits through the LTCR & CIR that had not previously existed.  In the majority of cases, you will often lower the out-of-pocket cost to the policy owner, but even if the new on-going premium was the same or slightly higher, you are providing so much more in terms of benefits that the client will likely go forward with the exchange.

 

Blended Life Contracts:

Another area where there are high potentials for sales is in the Blended Life arena.  These contracts also allow for IRC §1035 Exchanges.  These products are more LTC focused and offer a modest life insurance benefit while still meeting the definition of life insurance under IRC §7702.  These types of sales are typically unwritten on a non-medical basis via a client phone interview and a series of field underwritten knock-out questions.  A good prospect for this type of product may be an older client with an in-force life insurance policy(ies) with cash value but a shift in need that is less life insurance focused and more LTC driven.

 

Annuity Products:

The last area to focus on is the annuity marketplace.  There are annuity contracts that can offer LTC benefits as well.   These types of transactions have a few more rules associated with them, but are classified as viable annuity to annuity exchanges under IRC §1035.  The key component is that these contracts have the same taxation as it relates to withdrawals and death benefit payouts to beneficiaries.  However, the true benefit comes in the form of potential tax-free LTC payouts.

 

When it comes to IRC §1035 Exchanges, there are so many benefits that you can offer your clients.  Today however, with the Living Benefits available, there are additional opportunities that are often overlooked.  The idea of adding on Long Term Care or Chronic Illness benefits to the exchange can surely start some great conversations.  Based on experience, this is something that is not well known, not only amongst professionals in our own industry, but with referral sources such as Estate Attorneys, CPA’s and Trust Officers.

 

Don’t miss this opportunity.  By adding the LTC/§1035 Exchange topic to your daily discussions, you can boost your sales by showing your clients and prospects how they can Have Their Cake and Eat it Too.

  

 

 

Find more of Mark’s Bark’s Blogs on our website: http://www.asglife.com/insurance-view/marks-barks-blog/

 

Back to School

by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU
Partner, Agent Support Group-August 17

It’s the start of August and I have already seen my first “Back to School” store displays and television commercials.  Even though I haven’t been to school in years, for some reason, those three words always make me cringe. 

Back to School though is all about preparing.  You need to gather all of your supplies so you can hit the ground running in an effort to stay focused on your schoolwork so you can succeed in the coming school year.  That makes me think about our livelihoods.  Are we prepared for “our school year?”  Do we have the tools we need to succeed? Are we preparing enough?

Back to School symbolizes the end of summer.  And it is true that most people move at a slower pace during July and August.  It is often associated with a slowdown of business.  Clients are on vacations and it is harder to get in front of them.  But come September, we have to be careful so that we are not utilizing that time to slowly get back into the groove.  Because before we know it, it’s the end of the year and we can fall short of our goals.  Just like those students, we need to be prepared so that our success can be achieved. 

What steps are you taking now to hit the ground running?  With all of what’s going on in our Industry today, it is truly a great time to be a part of it.  There are so many unique ways in which you can help your current/potential clients. 

Here is a sampling of the types of products and services that you can provide today…

* Policy Audits

* Complimentary Business Valuations

* Loan Rescue Programs

* Premium Finance Strategies

* Supplemental Retirement Planning

* Guaranteed Income Planning

* Longevity Planning using Non-Health Triggers to use Death Benefit as Cash

* Uncapped LTC Pools

* Guaranteed “Cash Back” Life Insurance

These are some hot buttons that we are widely using to generate tons of client meetings that are turning into tremendous sales.  If there is something on the list that you want to know more about, we would be glad to assist you.  Use this time for your “Back to School” planning.  Learn more about the items on this list and how they can turn into meaningful client encounters.

Back to School is all about preparing.  Use these resources wisely.  Do your Homework now and identify potential prospects so that in September you will hit the ground running and have an amazing last quarter of 2017!

Happy Selling

Independence Day

Independence Day

By: Gary Bleetstein
Partner, Agent Support Group

 

Last week, we celebrated Independence Day.

Independence is defined in the dictionary as the state or quality of being independent, freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.

I am not sure if I agree 100% with the definition, however most of it appears valid and true. Sometimes we do need the aid and support of others. 

As a free nation, we all have so much to be grateful for, especially our independence. There are many nations where their people have no independence and are controlled by the likes of dictators, autocrats, fascists and totalitarian oppressors.

So how does the word Independence fit into the lives of Life Insurance Advisors.  

Most of you are independent to help your clients make great decisions for themselves and for the future of their families and their business’s. You have the independence to choose the best solutions, plans, and products that will fit your client’s long term needs, whether it is for Life Insurance, Annuities, Long Term Care or Disability.

In thinking more about the word Independence, two major items come to mind:

  • The new DOL rules and your job as an advisor to give advice to your client’s based on the best interest of the client – I believe this has always been the case.
  • The importance of Long Term Care and knowing that your clients who will all want as much independence as possible can achieve it with a good Long Term Care Solution.

Let us all be thankful for our independence as a great nation, as well as our independence to assist our client’s in achieving their goals without undue control or influence of others.

A Legacy That Endures…….
By: Jay Scheiner
Partner, Agent Support Group

Legacy 2Often, as financial advisors and insurance professionals, we get so caught up in the minutia of the products we offer that we lose sight of how our products can be structured to make a difference to our clients and their heirs.  Here’s a story and a planning idea that you can discuss with your older successful clients and put a smile on their faces

My former boss at the broker-dealer I worked at, Lee, was a wise and giving man.  Lee was also an astute financial planner blessed with the gift of good timing.  After all — like George Steinbrenner — Lee died in 2010, the sunset year of the estate tax, which allowed him to pass-on assets to his children free of federal estate tax.  Ever the planner, he left a unique gift to his three daughters, which enables them to remember him in a very special way each May, around the time of his birthday.  Every year each daughter receives an insurance company check for approximately $10,000 from their father – a sweet legacy from a man who would have just turned 96 this year.  These distributions will continue for at least 20 more years.  Lee set up this plan deliberately, reasoning that the impact of an extended bequest would be a legacy that endures vs. a lump-sum that would have faded into a memory.  I keep in touch with the daughters and each has commented what a special gift it was that their father created for them.

Agent Support Group can help you set up a similar plan for your clients.  New York Life’s annuities are well suited for this.  The have the flexibility to carry out your client’s desire to leave funds after they are gone to one, two or more beneficiaries.  Just as important, they have strong financial ratings so your clients can feel comfortable making a multi-decade bequest backed by the strength of New York Life.  *Note – New York Life is available to our approved producers only.

·        Attached (NY Life PDF) is another example of this concept:  Grandpa, age 85, purchases a $500,000 income annuity today with income payments to begin just prior to the holidays – December 15th.  Each year while alive Grandpa receives $25,995 with most of this coming tax-free.  Upon his death his heirs (it can be one or many more than one) will receive the $25,995 payment for the balance of thirty-years – until December 15, 2046!  It will be the ultimate Christmas or Hanukah present funding device – and Grandpa will be remembered for this long after he is gone!

To structure a creative annuity legacy plan for your client please contact me or one of my ASG partners or our annuity specialist, David Tornabene david@asglife.com 212.292.7934.

Wishing you a wonderful Summer 2017!   ~Jay

The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation
By Sam Kaufman
Senior Partner, Agent Support Group-May 2017

sandwich generation I

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Carnegie Delicatessen in New York defined the meaning of a “Sandwich”. Anyone who has been to the Carnegie understands that it was truly a contest to devour an entire sandwich in one sitting. In fact, it was a wonder that so much could be put between two slices of bread making it impossible to fit the entire sandwich in your mouth. For many today their daily life seems to even make the Carnegie Delicatessen sandwich appear to be miniature.   Many parents are finding themselves emotionally and financially squeezed between their children and their parents. If you are one of those parents you can easily relate to feeling like the corned beef that was jammed between the two pieces of rye bread at the Carnegie.  

sandwich generationFamily dynamics need to be included in every advisors discussion with his or her client to determine the multiple financial needs that the new “Sandwich Generation” is facing or dealing with on a currently.   Planning for their retirement, many are also dealing with the cost of education for their children and caring for their parents. What happens if the breadwinner who is financially supporting both their immediate family and elders is lost or disabled?

What happens if the “Soccer Mom” is no longer able to run between taking the kids to after school events and providing care for aging family members? If you thought the corned beef sandwich at the Carnegie covered the plate from corner to corner, just think about those who are personally sandwiched stretching themselves both financially and personally.  

As advisors we need to be sensitive to these situations while assisting in providing solutions. There is a greater need than ever to focus on the living benefits that can be provided by life insurance. Tax deferred accrual of cash value for retirement, Long Term Care Benefits and a host of new enhancements make life insurance more than simply death protection. These benefits can help the new “Sandwich Generation” plan for themselves while protecting their family both short and long term.   

At Agent Support Group we are constantly designing new concepts to assist our advisors. Advisors are welcome to come in and meet to discuss these new concepts and learn how they may be helpful to you in your practices and for your clients. Look at the total picture and provide solutions. 

 

By: Gary Bleetstein
Partner, Agent Support Group-Mar. 17

Leprechaun going for the gold

CLIENTS CAN SAVE 15 % ON THEIR LIFE INSURANCE PREMIUMS – BY SIMPLY LIVING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE !

 That’s Right- SAVE MONEY AND EARN VALUABLE REWARDS JUST BY LIVING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE

John Hancock Life Insurance Company is the first and only Life Insurance Company in the US to offer Vitality – a rewards and premium saving program for new life insurance sales – Permanent and Term (outside of NY) and Permanent Insurance in New York.

 

Here is a quick summary on how the Vitality Program works and you should be looking at this program for all of your current and future sales opportunities. 

  • Apply for a John Hancock Life Policy and if you apply for Vitality- receive a FITBIT or APPLE WATCH from John Hancock plus
  • Have the opportunity to save 10- 15 % on your life insurance premiums
  • As you earn Vitality Points while staying healthy via Health Reviews, Check ups, Physical Activity, Eating Healthy Foods, healthy screenings and online education- use the points to Earn Rewards and Discounts for
  • Healthy Food, Gym Memberships, Health Gear Discounts from REI, Adidas, Garmin, Fitbit Walmart  plus
  • Apple Watch
  • Half Price Hotel Stays at Hyatt
  • Up to 50% off Cruise Rewards – Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Crystal, and Seabourn
  • Shopping and Entertainment Gift Cards from Amazon, I Tunes, Whole Foods and others. 

The program is easy and all your clients need to do is complete a one time registration, use the John Hancock Vitality App, earn the points by living a healthy lifestyle and this will assist your clients in obtaining Vitality Status in 4 areas-

Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum

Here is an example- to qualify for Gold Status- your client only needs to  

  • Annually have a health review, see a doctor for health screenings, workout 2 times per week, have a flu shot, and eat healthy –
  • This will save your client 12 -15% on their life insurance premiums and all health information is between the client and Vitality- NOT JOHN HANCOCK LIFE

STARTING NOW- WHY NOT GO FOR THE GOLD WITH JOHN HANCOCK VITALITY AND SEE YOUR SALES SOAR, SEE YOUR CLIENTS SAVE MONEY, AND SEE HOW HEALTHY YOUR CLIENTS WILL BE.

Gary Bleetstein

threeltcchronicillnessconceptsBy Jay Scheiner, JD, CLU
Partner, Agent Support Group-Feb. 2017

Its a new world now, as the traditional Long Term Care (LTC) marketplace has evaporated, replaced by innovative new life insurance policies with comprehensive LTC and Chronic Illness Riders and linked benefit products.

      Survivor Life w/LTC Rider Nationwide: This rider allows your clients (a couple) who desire LTC with guaranteed premiums first (and have less interest in life insurance) to obtain a large amount of LTC benefit for a far lower outlay than individual life policies with LTC riders.

*Note: This option is not approved in New York.

 o How it works: Each insured is entitled to 50% of the death benefit for LTC. Example: $2MM policy provides $1MM each for LTC – paying a Maximum Monthly Benefit of two times HIPAA or 2% of each partners half of the face amount ($20,000). The residual life insurance may be left to the insureds next generation or a charity of choice, etc…

     Term Insurance w/Chronic Illness Conversion Agreement Minnesota Life (Securian in NY):  For clients who plan to convert their term policy to permanent coverage in the future and desire chronic illness protection.

o  How it works: Client buys 10/15/20 year term w/Extended Conversion Agreement and CICA may convert to a policy with Accelerated Death Benefit for Chronic Illness prior to age 65.

o Allows conversion to UL w/Chronic Illness even if disabled!

o Perfect solution for one planning to purchase a policy with comprehensive Chronic Illness in the future and wants to qualify for it NOW.  *This option is approved in NY and most states.

     Life Insurance AS a SUBSTITUTE for LTC/Chronic Illness Insurance: Your clients who can afford to pay the outof-pocket costs of an extended illness can use life insurance to REPLACE the funds expended:

o  How it works: Show your welltodo clients how the purchase of a life insurance policy WITHOUT an LTC/Chronic Illness Rider can accomplish a similar or even better economic result as one with a rider resulting in cost savings so long as the client and his or her spouse/heirs can tolerate the delay in the payment of benefits.

o  Example: Male 60 NS STD $1MM w/LTC = $26,900/Yr. IRR of Death
Benefit Age 85 = 4.0% / Age 90 = 2.3% vs. $1MM w/o LTC =
$19,700/Yr. IRR of Death Benefit Age 85 = 5.1% / Age 90 = 3.2%!

o  Concept works so long as client has the assets to pay outof- pocket. Even spending down some principal, the assets can be replaced on a guaranteed basis. This opensup the insurance companies that may have the best life insurance rates for your client, but no LTC rider or in cases where your client may be shavedto Standard on life insurance but not on an LTC rider.

2017-tax-changes-for-life-insurance

By: Sam Kaufman
Partner, Agent Support Group

A new beginning is upon us as we enter 2017….

A new President will take over the reins of our government promising changes, many of which may have profound effects on our industry, some positive and some negative.    While the banter about Estate Taxes gets most of the headlines, the life insurance industry overall may be the beneficiary of many of the changes being proposed.

Estate Taxes always seem to grab the biggest headlines, but in the past trade-offs such as, ending the stepped up basis, have ended the discussion and Estate Taxes have remained, albeit targeted at a very small percentage of Americans.    It is likely, that the fight to extinguish Estate Taxes will have the same historic ending it has in the past.    Of more concern are changes in 1031 and 1035 Exchanges.   Can you imagine the impact of gains in annuities and life insurance no longer being sheltered when exchanged for a like-kind.    This would obviously have a major effect on future sales as we have always counted on being able to shelter the gain when replacing a cash value life insurance policy or rolling over an annuity.   Be on the lookout for these changes which tend to appear only in small print, these would be the true “Death Taxes”.

The biggest proposal is to reduce the corporate tax rate, a potential bonanza for life insurance sales.    For years, advisors have tried to devise techniques to make life insurance premiums tax deductible.  Those of us who were around in the heyday of Sec. 79 clearly remember the bonanza.    If the corporate tax rate is reduced to 15 – 20%, the need for “tax deductibility” becomes less significant leading to an increase in non-qualified plans, split dollar and other life insurance concepts utilizing corporate dollars.  It also would not be surprising to see more corporations electing “C” status as opposed to “S” to take advantage of the spread between the personal and corporate tax rates.

It is important that we all stay tuned as our new President enters his first hundred days.    This is usually a time when the Houses of Congress tend to be favor a new President and given the majority of both Houses being Republican many tax reforms will be given a fast track.  We can count on business expansion, leading to perhaps the most favorable employment figures in decades.   Need we forget the DOL legislation which affect all those selling annuities. This will lead to more people needing advisors to guide them on how to provide for their families and future supplemental retirement benefits.

Get up to speed on new life insurance products that can provide a myriad of solutions from Long Term Care to Supplemental Retirement Benefits.    Get familiar with indexed based products that offer true crediting transparency.   Upward trending interest rates will have a positive effect on products using “New Money Crediting” as opposed to “Portfolio”.   We are here to assist you in navigating through what promises to be a very exciting year.  A year filled with many new opportunities for you as advisors to bring to your clients.    Don’t be left at the station as this turbo charged train pulls out.