HAVE HAPPYDEPENDENTSDAY”!
by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU, CLTC
July 3, 2020

 

No, that’s not a typo. That’s what I meant. Independence Day is upon us, but with all the freedoms that we celebrate, it is fitting to talk about the freedoms that we can provide for our families, our heirs, our Dependents.

There is nothing worse than witnessing a catastrophic event that can wipe out all that we have worked for our whole lives. Too many times, we see this happen to our clients, friends and others and it all comes down to poor planning. We live in a time where there is so much discussion about outliving retirement funds, what to do in the event of a long term care event, etc. As advisors, we have the ability to discuss a myriad of products and planning techniques with our clients to assure that they have done the proper planning to protect themselves (or their Dependents), against unforeseen life events.

What can we do to fill in the gaps? The short answer…A LOT.

Life Insurance – of course, the simple answer is Life Insurance. This has always been there to help Dependents get back on their feet. It can provide so many things; continued income, college educations, provides life long income for survivors, estate liquidity and the list goes on.

Long Term Care Insurance – providing a policy that will help offset the costs associated with a health care event requiring nursing home or home health care needs. This can be accomplished on an individual basis or under a Blended-Life design.

Disability Income Insurance – providing the replacement of one’s income with benefits should that person be unable to provide income due to some type of health impairment.

Income Annuities – for some clients, we can provide them/surviving spouse with an income that they can never outlive.

The above list is the more traditional approach for Dependent planning. But in today’s marketplace, we can go many steps further…

Living Benefits have become the popular trend in our industry and if you are not taking advantage of them, it’s going to cost you potential clients. Living Benefits enhance the traditional planning methods outlined above and ease the burdens on their Dependents. Here are some of the Living Benefits that you should be implementing with your clients:

Long Term Care Riders– LTCR’s can be added to Life Insurance policies and will allow your clients to access their death benefits should they have a life event requiring Long Term care needs. Although they come with different access definitions (e.g. indemnity v. reimbursement), the end result is the same, an ability to use a life insurance policy as a means to ease the burden on Dependents. They are even available on a rated basis for those that could normally not qualify for an individual LTC policy. Now, when a client objects to buying life insurance because “they won’t benefit from it,” in this case they can. This is a powerful tool to use and a great innovation to a standard life insurance policy.

Chronic Illness Riders similar to the Long Term Care Riders, these benefits allow early access to death benefits for permanent types of illnesses. Once again, easing the strain on Dependents.

Guaranteed Income Riders– through the use of new annuity product designs, these riders can guarantee income to annuitants based upon the high watermark values of a contract. This allows individuals to receive a higher guaranteed income, regardless of market conditions that can deplete values prior to retirement.

Disability – for those of you in the term marketplace, there is a policy available to pay premiums and possibly convert a policy to something permanent in the event of a permanent disability.

Living Benefits have taken the traditional approach to selling our products and taken them to a new level. These benefits are designed with an underlying theme for you to bring to your clients…easing the burden on their Dependents.

So, as we celebrate our country’s independence with our families, eating our hot dogs, hamburgers and watching fireworks, let’s think for a moment about how we assist our clients in protecting what is most important to them and…

HAVE HAPPYDEPENDENTSDAY!

by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU, CLTC

At the start of training camp in 1961, Vince Lombardi walked into the locker room of the Green Bay Packers and said to his team what would become one of the most iconic quotes in sports history… “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

Vince Lombardi was a Hall of Fame football coach, an NFL executive and the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960’s. He led the team to three straight and five total NFL Championships in a seven year span. His namesake, The Vince Lombardi Trophy is awarded to the winner of The Super Bowl each year.

The iconic words spoken by him were all about getting back to fundamentals. Without them, regardless of what profession you are in, we can easily lose site of our core values. Our industry is one that sees many changes but as that change happens, it is often a very slow process. The life insurance industry is analogous to a large ocean liner. In order for that ship to make a turn, it’s a slow, tedious process. Changing course normally takes years to complete. Today, however, we are seeing huge changes happening virtually overnight.

As we continue to live in our pandemic stricken world, we, as insurance professionals, have been given an amazing gift. Carriers have adopted new procedures in underwriting utilizing various technologies. We are able to provide needed insurance products for our clients without a physical exam, blood draw or urine sampling. In addition, we are able to procure very large face amount limits, as high as $5,000,000 in some cases. To not seize this opportunity is doing our clients a tremendous disservice.

But the larger lesson that we should be learning from the current situation is the fundamentals of what it is we do for a living. We provide life insurance. Life insurance can be defined in many ways and when we all first started in the business, we were most likely making the sale sitting across a kitchen table.

We spoke to young couples who had just started out in life. Perhaps they purchased their first house and we talked about the “what if” scenario. Will you have enough money to pay off your mortgage? We would fast forward a few years and that same couple were now starting a family and that “what if” changed. Now we are talking about providing the extra income for their families to continue on and not be uprooted from that house they built into a home.  Or better still, making sure that college funds would be available if that “what if” scenario happened.

On the brighter side, there are also living benefits such as cash value based products that grow into supplemental retirement plans with the potential of tax-free income. I can vividly recall those kitchen table sales and the many lives that were changed by that stroke of the pen.  It was always a good feeling when I left a house at 10:00 at night knowing that we just insured the husband who had a wife and two kids that relied on him to keep the lights on.

On any given day, we see carriers releasing charts and graphs showing how competitive their particular products are.   We see the IRR calculations, the interest fluctuations, etc.  We see complex sales ideas showing financing techniques, white papers and tons of interpretations to justify these techniques.  Don’t get me wrong, there are many situations where the esoteric stuff is appropriate and works just fine. But the basic “core” life insurance sale seems to be taking a back seat.

The life insurance marketplace is still one of the most underserved consumer bases out there.  If left on their own, consumers can turn to the internet and purchase commoditized versions of life insurance.  There are plenty of websites out there attracting these consumers.  But the reality is that that they will simply not buy or not buy enough life insurance.  They do need someone to guide them through the purchase.  After all, life insurance is a product that is “sold” and not bought.

The power of what we do is truly amazing.  Today however, I believe that many agents have lost sight of the simplicity of the life Insurance sale. We get smothered by abstract ideas and sales concepts that take away the true meaning of who we are.  We are Life Insurance Agents. Be proud of it.

As I am writing this today, there has never been a more important time for us as insurance agents to rise to the occasion and take a step back and soak in the basic fundamentals of selling life insurance. The COVID-19 Pandemic has everyone thinking of their mortality. Protecting their families is paramount and that is evidenced by a recent LIMRA report indicating that term life sales for Q1 were up 8% with many carriers reporting double digit increases. When I started in the business, some of the old time veteran agents in the office would talk to “the new guys” and tell us that we would never understand this business until we delivered our first death claim.  You really can’t understand that until you have done it.  Those words, as I learned years later, were so true

In my career that spans over 30 years, I can honestly say that there has never been a time that life insurance has been as important as it is now. Combine that with the ease of obtaining it through the various non-medical platforms that we are seeing and we truly have an opportunity to go back to those fundamentals that Mr. Lombardi framed so well.

“Gentlemen (and Ladies), this is a football…”

Let’s not squander this unique opportunity and do what we do best.

 

By: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU, CLTC
May 7, 2020

In all of my years in this industry, I have seen many changes. Those changes always showed the true chameleon like nature of our industry and how adaptable it has always been to shifts in the market. Those changes though, have always been influenced by reactive buying habits of consumers.   Something as simple as pricing products with longer guarantees or coming up with additional benefits , such as the addition of long term care riders that created versality and options to the buyers of our products.

What we have experienced however over the last couple of months is truly incredible. Our lives as advisors have been changed forever. The changes that we are seeing have shifted away from historical “product like” changes to a focus on pure availability and access to a population that has its mortality thrown in its face every day. People are concerned with protecting their families. If that doesn’t empower us and make us an important part of society today, I don’t know what will.

I have always contended that our role as insurance advisors is one of the most noble professions that one can choose. We are “essential” and have a vital role to play through this existing pandemic.

The carriers that we represent have given us the strongest set of tools that we can place in our toolbox every day. As we have communicated over the last 6-8 weeks, you can offer your clients large amounts of life insurance without the need for a physical exam, a blood draw or urine specimen. The non-medical limits also extend to Disability Income policies and a wide range of Long Term Care & Chronic Illness Riders.

At first glance, some will say that this sounds too good to be true. It’s important to note that the carriers are not giving this away. They have just found a way to get the job done. By utilizing technology, they are able to access RX & MIB Databases, Lexus/Nexus searches and various other technologies to help them assess the risk. Something else that is becoming a viable underwriting tool is the use of a new technology called Human API. This latest tool allows the insurance carriers to have access to a proposed insured (patient) medical history via online portals that are widely used by medical facilities today. This is accomplished with a one time client authorization.

In our world of social distancing and quarantines, you have been empowered to make these products easily accessible at a time when it is needed most.

Here is a summary of what is available to you:

  • Non-Medical face amounts up to $5,000,000
  • Typically available up to age 60
  • Some face amounts may be available up to age 69
  • Term or Permanent plans
  • Non-Medical Disability Income benefits up to $10,000/mo.

It’s important to note that in addition to these non-medical limits for newly issued policies, we shouldn’t forget that the promises that we made to our existing clients will be honored. There are no pandemic exclusions in the life insurance products we sold.

Doing what we do has never been so important. This is an amazing opportunity that we shouldn’t squander. We should all feel empowered to pick up that phone, do your Zoom meetings and spread the word.   As your General Agency, we have the expertise to guide you through this new frontier. And just like that, together, we can reinvent ourselves.

By: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU,CLTC
April 20, 2020

 

In light of recent events, I felt that this time around, we could have a little fun. I put together the very first Mark’s Barks Crossword Puzzle. Below is the link to the digital version or simply download the PDF below. If you get stuck on any of the answers, reach out. We have the answer key.

Please Click Here if you like to solve it on the website.

And Click Here if you like to download the PDF and print it at home.

 

Have fun with it and Stay Safe!

Mark

 

 

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By: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU,CLTC

 

I hope this post finds everyone safe and you are coping well and adjusting to this new (temporary) normal.

As we are all making adjustments trying to balance our personal and business lives, it is important to stay busy.   I find it therapeutic keeping to a routine and staying in touch with friends and clients alike.

In terms of our industry, there has been a great response on the carrier level. The carriers are assuring us that they are there for their policyholders and able to service their respective customer bases.

From a new business standpoint, a number of carriers have expanded their non-medical platforms so that you can provide your clients with needed protection for life, disability and long term care insurance.

The platforms are digitally based and can facilitate large lines of protection without you ever having to physically be in front of your clients. Even annuity products can be processed in a similar manner.

All of that is great but let’s not lose site of the gravity of what is going on. Although we still need to make a living, be a human being first. Don’t come off like a snake oil salesman.

Check in on your clients. Assure them that through this crisis, the carriers that you sold to them are there to back up the promises you made to them. If appropriate, let them know what actions the carriers have taken with their non medical platforms and that they could take advantage of updating their insurance if they are interested.

I have seen multiple e-mails from Law & CPA firms advising their clients that they are still available for their planning needs. I have contacted attorneys and CPAs to let them know how our industry has responded with the digital platforms outlined above.   It’s good for them to know so that they can make their clients aware that they have options if the questions come up.

On a personal note, we at Agent Support Group are here to support you. Although we are working remotely, we have full capabilities to keep the continuity of your business flowing. If you would like to know more about any of the additional resources available to you, let us know.

Stay Safe!

Leveraging the SECURE ACT

by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU, CLTC
Sales Vice President

 

With change comes opportunity. And so is the case with The Secure Act. Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 was approved by the Senate on December 19, 2019.

Here are the key highlights…

  • The SECURE Act will make it easier for small business owners to set up “safe harbor” retirement plans that are less expensive and easier to administer.
  • Many part-time workers will be eligible to participate in an employer retirement plan.
  • The Act pushes back the age at which retirement plan participants need to take required minimum distributions (RMDs), from 70½ to 72, and allows traditional IRA owners to keep making contributions indefinitely.
  • The Act mandates that most non-spouses inheriting IRAs take distributions that end up emptying the account in 10 years.
  • The Act allows 401(k) plans to offer annuities.

As a life insurance producer, the biggest takeaway for me is the clawback on the stretch IRA rules for non-spousal beneficiaries and the minimum age for RMDs being pushed back to age 72. Prior to the enactment of The Secure Act, non-spousal beneficiaries were able to stretch out the taxation of inherited IRA’s during their lifetimes. Now, those same beneficiaries will be limited to only 10 years.

This opens up a tremendous opportunity for some additional life insurance and annuity sales. Here are some considerations. If holders of qualified buckets of money…

  • do not require those assets to maintain their lifestyle and
  • are planning to pass on those assets to non-spousal beneficiaries,

then consider leveraging those assets with the purchase of tax-free life insurance. It’s no different than the old Pension Maximization strategy. But with The Secure Act being in the news as much as it is, we have a tremendous opportunity to create new sales. Whether you use an Individual or a Survivorship Life option, the leverage is measurable. See the chart below to give you an idea of the kind of leverage you can expect to see. The example assumes a $500,000 qualified account balance purchasing an immediate income annuity with a 10 Year Certain Only payout option…

TAX FREE DEATH BENEFIT LEVERAGE

 

The notion of leveraging taxable dollars into tax-free alternatives is always a great story to tell. You can further enhance this opportunity by adding a Long Term Care or Chronic Illness Rider to compound the benefits of the transaction.

The SECURE ACT has definitely provided us with a huge opportunity with both Life Insurance and Annuity sales. Make CPA’s aware of this opportunity so as they prepare returns during the current tax season, they can identify clients that can take advantage of this planning technique.

We are ready to answer any questions on how you can start the conversation and get off to a great start in 2020.

 

by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU, CLTC

When I look back at this industry, I am amazed at how far it has come.   The changes and innovations that have taken place have transformed how we conduct our business. Most industries have experienced a great deal of disruption and the insurance industry is no different.

With advances in technology, there has been a change in underwriting philosophy. The application process has changed dramatically. It used to be that for a run of the mill life insurance application, the proposed insured would have to have a paramed exam completed to include a blood & urine sample, a possible EKG as well as medical record retrieval. In addition, the actual application was very long and often times was not filled out correctly, which significantly slowed down the entire process.

Today however, if you are between the ages of 18 – 60, you can often secure up to $1,000,000 of life insurance benefit for either term or permanent insurance plans without a medical exam.   In fact, in some cases, you may be able to secure as much as $5,000,000 non-medically.

This is where the technology kicks in…

When applications are submitted, extensive searches are being completed behind the scenes. The insurance carriers are able to conduct searches by accessing a number of databases that provide valuable information. This information can include, but Is not limited to, state motor vehicle records, prescription drug histories and property/personal data. With all of this information at their disposal, the carriers save countless dollars on acquisition costs associated with the application and underwriting process.

All of this provides a more efficient, shorter underwriting process resulting in very quick approvals compared to older methods. This gets your client their policy faster and gets you paid faster as well.

The title of this post was “But Wait…There’s More!

So here’s the MORE…

This Non-Medical business applies to a large segment of the products we sell. Here is an example of a recent case that utilized all of the benefits of “non-medical underwriting for not only Life Insurance, but Disability Income & Long Term Care Insurance:

Under the above scenario, we were able to work with these clients and take advantage of all of their needs on a Non-Medical basis – NO BLOOD, URINE OR PARAMED. All of this was achieved with short form, simple applications and a brief phone interview.

When you tally up all of the numbers, a total of $1,666,000 of life insurance benefit, $5,000/mo. of disability income benefits and an uncapped long term care benefit for each of the insureds starting at $5,000/mo. was provided.

I started out this post by stating how amazed I am with our industry. The new approaches in underwriting afford us tremendous opportunities in providing our clients with unique solutions to their planning needs.   Cutting out the exam and other physical requirements greatly reduces the time it takes to process a piece of business. It also can motivate clients to move a little faster.

If you haven’t taken advantage of the full scope of this new way of doing business, you should give it a try.   But Wait, There is More…

More opportunity and more cases to close.

 

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

 

Fall into Policy Audits

by: Mark D. Milbrod, CLU, CLTC-September, 2019

 

As we enter the last quarter, we are all thinking about how our sales year will end. Will I finish strong? Will I hit my goals, etc.? In an effort to bolster activity for year end, as well as giving us momentum into the new year, Policy Audits are probably the greatest source of generating instant client engagement and lead the path towards new sales.

The best thing about conducting policy audits is that the clients are already buyers of insurance products. When reviewing policies, we need to be looking at many things such as:

  • Health Changes
  • Underperforming contracts
  • Needs changing
  • Ownership & Beneficiary Issues
  • Life changing events

Health changes can be a huge source of policy audit activity. Perhaps a policy was issued many years ago when there was a negative health event that was close to the time of the issuance of a policy that resulted in a sub-standard rating. For example, we recently completed a case where a replacement was made on a policy that was issued 8 years ago on a 61-year-old who had been rated Table 4 due to a cardiac event that took place 3 years before the original policy was issued. Now, 11 years past that event, and with stability, that same insured was issued with Standard rates. By utilizing a 1035 Exchange, premiums were lowered significantly and full guarantees to age 121 were achieved. These types of scenarios happen all the time. Sometimes they are as simple as uncovering an insured with smoker rates that has since stopped smoking.

One of the largest areas of opportunity that we see through Policy Audits are through life changing events. Older life insurance policies were purchased for different reasons (i.e. Income replacement, college planning, etc.). In many cases, the original need for the life insurance has diminished or gone away all together. In these situations, we are transitioning into the Long Term Care conversation.

These older policies, many of which have significant cash value, are being repurposed via 1035 exchanges into either income annuities and/or Hybrid Life-LTC policies. This type of transaction often uncovers the necessary funds to help protect against the threat of a long term health event.

Although the Policy Audit technique is an excellent way to work with existing clients, it is also a great way to open doors with new prospects. Asking them for the opportunity to review their existing coverage is an effective way of breaking the ice with those new prospective clients. In addition, it is also a way to get referrals from CPA’s, Attorneys and Trust Officers.

Either way, don’t sell the Policy Audit short. The process will undoubtedly increase client activity, which in turn, will lead you to many new sales for year end and beyond.

 

 

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

Mark D. Milbrod, CLU, CLTC –August 2019

 

When I first started in the business, I worked for The Prudential as a District Agent. As “the new kid on the block,” the old time agents in the office would tell me that I would never understand this business until I delivered my first death claim. Fast forward a few years later, low and behold, they were right. When you deliver that check, you really do get it.

As I write this post (and as strange as it sounds), I am celebrating my 34th year in this business. As true as those words were (and still are), I pass on that same wisdom to newer agents today. But I add one more line. I tell them that in addition to that death claim, they won’t understand this business until they have processed their first Long Term Care claim.

The life insurance policies that we sell today have greatly evolved compared to what used to be sold. They have a number of living benefits built in such as Long Term Care or Chronic Illness Riders. These types of benefits play such an important role as we navigate our clients through the planning process.

Our industry provides us with one of the most noble professions that one can be a part of. We really are in the business of changing lives. On that note, 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/

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

When it comes to Life Insurance sales, one of the most dynamic products still available is a good old fashioned Whole Life Insurance policy. But as it turns out, unless you are captive to one of the few major mutual companies, very few advisors are still selling it on a regular basis.

In general, I am a fan of permanent cash value life insurance and Whole Life is still on the top of the list. When it comes to fixed products, Whole Life offers something that no other product can offer, a Guaranteed Cash Value (GCV) that in most cases, can equal the sum of premiums paid by policy year 10. Once you hit that threshold, your increase in GCV usually increases by at least the premium that you pay annually. Top that with dividends and you have an amazing financial vehicle that is truly unique. The guarantees are an amazing foundation that is un-rivaled in the financial world.

There are obvious other attributes to a Whole Life plan:

  • Strong Death Benefit
  • Tax-Deferred Cash Build-up
  • Potential Tax-Free Access to Cash Value
  • Acts as a Life Long “Bank”
  • Competitive IRR’s

Even though I am a big fan of Whole Life, I also am a fan of other types of permanent cash value life insurance plans, namely Indexed Universal Life (IUL). Similar to a properly designed investment portfolio, I strongly feel that a Life Insurance portfolio should be diversified as well.

Through the strong guaranteed cash value of the Whole Life product, that great foundation is the start of a well-designed life insurance portfolio. Once you add the layers of an IUL and the upside potential of the underlying index options, you have the best of both worlds.
We are working on a number of cases currently that we are using the diversification approach. This concept has been widely accepted and is proving to be a differentiator with many advisors that are implementing it.

To summarize, Whole Life provides the strongest foundation of any product when it comes to guarantees. These guarantees act as a buffer against an IUL chassis and allow ultimate flexibility when designing a plan. When putting together a total program for any client looking to accumulate cash for a supplemental retirement, diversification is the key.

So don’t forget about The Whole Life Foundation.