What’s the one thing you want to live to see in your lifetime? For Mabel Ball, it was seeing the Cubs win the World Series for a second time. Mabel was born Aug. 6, 1908 – two months before the Cubs won the Series. She passed away at 108 years old, less than a week after celebrating their 2016 victory.
But baseball wasn’t her only passion – it was an outlet for the ups and downs she experienced through other aspects of her life. As we move into 2017 and beyond, here are five areas where we can help others imagine, plan, and act differently during their working and retirement years, so they can find their own passion and live to see their dreams become reality.
It’s no surprise – we’re living longer. During Mabel’s 108 years on Earth, life expectancies increased by more than 30 years. Today, individuals over age 85 represent the fastest growing demographic segment within America. Current statistics indicate life expectancy trends will continue to increase by 2.5 years every 10 years.
Increased life expectancies should be a great thing, but it creates a big question: how can we best be prepared to address the individual financial issues that accompany a long lifespan? There’s no longer a choice; longevity risk must be addressed as part of any financial conversation.
The insurance industry is uniquely positioned to address longevity risk. Over the coming years, insurance products that provide solutions to longevity – such as income annuities, DIAs, QLACs, asset-based long-term care insurance and cash-value life insurance – will become even more essential tools. It’s why we are investing heavily in a patent-pending analytical program to change the way Americans think about, plan for and enjoy retirement. Look for more information to come in 2017 as we continue to change the conversation.
In recent years, health care has been on a wild political ride, but no matter what happens with government regulations, the economic impact is certain. Mabel was an anomaly, maintaining fair health until suffering a heart attack earlier this year. Still, as we live longer, we generally need more care and assistance, and it doesn’t come cheap.
We know long-term care can be costly – the current average nursing home cost is about $92,000 per year, and with inflation, that may double in 20 years. Unfortunately, very few Americans have affirmatively addressed this risk.
Today, only 8 million Americans have long-term care insurance. Very few individuals and families will be able to absorb the economic shock of an extended health care event. And, the economic impact will be exacerbated by the emotional challenges associated with a loved one who needs assistance.
It’s time to think differently about the impact that long-term care, home health care or nursing home care can have on the dignity of the impacted individual and the financial and emotional impacts on their loved ones. The question should not be, "Can we afford some type of long-term care protection?" The real question should be, "How can we best plan for these life events and ensure that our family is protected?"
A wise man once commented, "... In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." It’s true, even if you live to 108.
Mabel shows us why we’re now issuing life insurance policies at older ages. Traditionally, life insurance was only useful once you died. Today, thinking of a policy as only providing a financial benefit after death is short sighted. Many extremely successful advisors have realized that life insurance should be thought of as a valuable asset within an overall financial portfolio.
2017 is the year to re-imagine life insurance as an asset uniquely positioned to offer more effective and efficient value than any other financial product. We should change the conversation in order to focus on the current and positive attributes of life insurance. Properly designed and structured, life insurance policies and portfolios can accomplish all of the following objectives:
As you can see, the value of these policies is not simply embedded in a benefit that becomes available at death – life insurance can be extremely beneficial while individuals are alive. Additionally, these are terrific financial products that offer individuals an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the future through legacy and charitable actions.
And speaking of taxes … the recent election has created a lot of uncertainty around income and estate taxes. While we do not know what the future holds – we do know that the government needs tax revenue to function.
Take the federal estate tax for example:
With uncertainty, individuals may have a bias toward inaction. We believe inaction is not only counterproductive, but can be financially devastating in the future. As people age, their health conditions generally deteriorate and insurance becomes costlier.
There are many strategies to optimize estate tax planning under current federal laws, and allow for flexibility if those laws change. Prudent planners will not sit on the sidelines waiting for the future to unfold. Instead, they will take action and analyze current estate plans, irrevocable trusts, etc.
It is also important, given the uncertainty, to address asset allocation and asset location. A clients' overall financial picture should include a blend of taxable, tax-deferred and tax-free assets. This approach will optimize financial positioning today and well into the future.
When Mabel was born, the idea of a computer – let alone a smart phone or the internet – was nothing more than science fiction. Today, technology continues to transform the insurance industry and make it more accessible. Innovations such as electronic applications and accelerated underwriting will make smaller policies more readily available and easier attainable, opening up more solutions not just for the wealthy, but for everyone.
We’re very excited about opportunities that will allow business owners, high-net-worth individuals and middle-income Americans to achieve what is important to them. We’ve designed action-oriented plans, structures and processes which address the needs and opportunities of various demographic and industry groups.
We can’t all be lucky enough to live to see our dreams come true. In addition to being a loyal lifelong Cubs fan, Mabel illustrates many of the reasons why we should be incredibly optimistic about the state of our industry today, tomorrow and well into the future.
While we cannot predict the future, we can take certain financial and longevity risks off the table and plan for not only for today but also tomorrow. It’s an obligation and a privilege to make sure that these issues are addressed and acted upon. We truly believe the best is yet to come!
This is such a magical time of year – so many fond, heartwarming memories, both old and new traditions year after year, from one generation to the next. It’s fair to say, regardless of your beliefs, many holiday traditions are centered around two things:
My favorite holiday tradition involves a full blown baking marathon weekend, where we prepare 30 different types of cookies and treats, then make gift trays for family, friends, coworkers and neighbors. Having carried on this tradition for more than 20 years – from my mother and my mother’s mother – it’s been an amazing gift to see the joy it brings to others, especially when watching our children give trays to our neighbors.
You may think traditions are hard to maintain in today’s fast-paced, commercialized society. I would challenge that thinking because many “old” traditions are easily upgraded – my family’s included! I have a pantry full of modern baking gadgets, a wealth of recipes/tips from the Internet and an abundance of stores where I can easily buy ingredients. All of these advancements provide the opportunity to do more, do it better and do it all in less time. The tradition remains, but the convenience is greatly improved.
The same applies to how our industry is evolving. Life insurance has been a “traditional” product in the eyes of most consumers, but we’re working to change up the recipe. Just like your holiday traditions, life insurance is based on:
Let’s start by changing the perception that all meaningful gifts are tangible, and that life insurance is “old fashion and complicated.” Over the last year, we’ve seen carriers progressively adopt automated underwriting enhancements to do just that.
Today, seven of our carriers offer streamlined underwriting programs, with face amounts from $50,000 up to $1 million, for ages 18-60. Qualifications vary from carrier to carrier, of course, but the majority of these programs target preferred/healthy clients. In an effort to improve the process of obtaining life insurance, carriers are utilizing conveniences like e-applications, streamlined underwriting and e-delivery.
We’re changing the recipe for traditionally underwritten coverage, too. We’ve seen carriers reduce age/amount requirements, many eliminating resting EKGs, physician’s exams and inspection reports – all of which are highly invasive for clients. As medical advancements extend our life expectancy, carriers are adjusting their expected mortality, as we’ve witnessed with specific impairments like hepatitis C, prostate cancer and even HIV.
These are the very beginnings of the changes we need to reach new markets, find new customers and start an improvement of traditions within our industry. The Ash Brokerage family will always honor of the tradition of helping you make the right choices for your clients – we’re also striving to improve that tradition and make it easier to give the gift of love.
Jennifer Glessner knows every opportunity she’s entrusted with is truly a gift, whether it’s the advisor’s first or 100th policy. With 20 years of life insurance experience, she grew up in the business and has a vital understanding of where we were, where we are and where we are going as an industry. Her diverse background includes underwriting, sales, operation and leadership, and she’s also an Associate of the Life Management Institute and an Associate of the Academy of Life Underwriting.
© 2018 Ash Brokerage LLC.