Protection Products

Is LTC Really That Expensive?


Let’s put things in perspective first:  according to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey for 2018, the annual national median cost of care in 2018 ranged anywhere from $18,720 to $100,000, depending on your needs. Breaking that down to monthly costs, that’s between from $1,560 - $8,364 a month to provide care for you or your loved one.

Where is this money coming from? How does this affect your portfolio? More importantly, if you need care for an extended period, how much will be left for your spouse to live on (or even fund their own care)?

Annual National Median Costs 2018

Homemaker Services:1 $48,048
Home Health Aide:1 $50,336

Adult Day Health Care:2 $18,720

Assisted Living Facility:3 $48,000

Semi-Private Room in a Nursing Home:4 $89,297
Private Room in a Nursing Home:4 $100,375


Now, let’s look at the cost of having a plan in place. If a 55-year-old couple were to purchase a $4500 monthly benefit, three-year policy adding inflation, the cost per month is just under $300. That would total $108k if paid for 30 years. Yes, $108 thousand sounds like a lot, but is it?

Since we wisely added inflation to the policy, our pool of money has grown to $393,216 per person!We spent $108k over 30 years to get $786,432 to spend on care.

The truth behind the numbers is simple. It’s more expensive NOT to have a LTC plan in place.

Don’t trust these numbers? I’ll get you your numbers, specific to you. #just ask


Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey, conducted by CareScout®, June 2018

1 Based on 44 hours per week by 52 weeks

2 Based on 5 days per week by 52 weeks

3 Based on 12 months of care, private, one bedroom

4 Based on 365 days of care

Long-Term Care cost of care

152 Million Reasons to Start Talking About Protection Products


At the end of 2017, I shared some meaningful statistics about the impact our industry/business has on so many lives. It prompted me to pause and start asking more questions about why we’re really in this business. To be truthful, I’ve been frustrated by the anemic growth the industry has experienced in protection products. 


I’d like to start with a couple of questions: Is every family and business you serve ready for one of life’s moments that could strike at any time? Have you proactively put a risk management strategy in place for each of your clients? 


I ask that you read this very closely as I hope it inspires you to act. 


Toward the tail-end of last year, I reached out to our friends at Protective Life. I asked them a question they hadn’t been asked before (much to my surprise): “How many death claims have been delivered because of our long-standing relationship?” 


It took about 90 days to get the information sorted and assembled, but I just received a file from them and goosebumps ensued – as did a feeling of connection and pride to our work and this industry. I couldn’t believe that over the course of our relationship with Protective Life, we have delivered 453 claim checks to beneficiaries totaling more than $152 million – $152,582,605, to be exact. And that’s with just one of the carriers we work with. 


What was sobering for me was looking at the names on the list, knowing that someone cared enough about their family, their business or their favorite charity to own insurance. I thought of the lives that were impacted. It also led me to notice the names of the advisors who helped place that coverage. They had the courage to have the conversation. I tried to envision those conversations, as well as the tears and words that were exchanged when the advisor delivered the claim check. 


I know what it’s like, as I’ve delivered several of those checks myself. Trust me, people aren’t talking about their asset allocation, rebalancing and tax management in those moments.  


I’m trying to figure out why more advisors don’t have conversations around planning for the moments in life we’re all going to deal with. It just seems the focus today is on AUM growth – life insurance and other protection products can wait for another time. All advisors are going to have clients who pass away, become disabled, need long-term health care or live longer than expected. So why aren’t these conversations taking place with each and every client?   


I know insurance is a very personal thing to discuss, and there are a lot of moving parts. I also know the process of acquiring coverage isn’t straight-through and simple. But that’s where we come in.  


We are your risk management partner/consultant. We will be here to help you design, implement, place and service your clients’ policies. You don’t have to get your hands dirty; we do the heavy lifting. You just need to bring your heart and courage to the planning table.  


I will end my diatribe by saying “thank you” for giving us the opportunity to serve you and your clients.  Go out and make it happen! You will be making a difference in someone’s life. 

Why Max Guarantees May be Costing Your Clients … and Damaging Your Credibility


One of our key programs at Ash Brokerage is our Life Audit. This program looks at currently in-force life insurance policies and performs a stress test to see if the policy is still performing to meet the client’s needs. 


When we first introduced this program, we were inundated with requests on policies that, in the advisors’ words, were blowing up. Most of these were interest-sensitive universal life policies or variable universal life policies that had not performed according to the original illustration that was presented to the client. 


Let me be clear: Nothing was wrong with any of these products. They were solid policies sold by, mostly, reputable insurance agents and financial advisors. The problem is they were sold with unrealistic long-range interest rates or woefully underfunded premiums and ignored for long periods of time.


Stop Overcorrecting

This UL implosion has led most advisors to run 180 degrees in the other direction and continually ask for more guarantees, sometimes lifetime guarantees, in order to protect their clients. Guaranteed UL isn’t a new concept, but in the past 15 years it has been the highest sold universal life product in the industry. 


Many of these sales are appropriate, as older clients are using insurance to take care of potential estate taxes or leaving a legacy to their families or a favorite charity – I love to see that type of planning and appreciate the positioning of the guaranteed product. 


However, many illustration requests we receive are for younger individuals who, by positioning them into a GUL, are being blocked by the many other benefits that a life insurance policy can provide. 


If you were buying a car and the dealer said it was guaranteed to last three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first, you would be hesitant to purchase it. While three/36,000 may be the max warranty, most dealerships tout their brands’ reliability and often show their vehicles still performing at 200,000-plus miles. You want to buy a vehicle based on what it can do, not what it’s guaranteed to do.


See the Possibilities

In “Apollo 13,” Gene Kranz told his team “I don’t care what anything was designed to do, I care about what it can do.” It’s the same with life insurance. Sure, the basic benefit of life insurance is if you pass away, it will pay a tax-free benefit to your beneficiaries. But what else can it do? 

  • It can provide income to supplement your retirement in down market years
  • It can provide tax-free income to pay for medical expenses should a health care event occur
  • It can provide legacy planning for business owners
  • It can provide a legacy commitment to a charity
  • It can help fund a child’s education … and more


A properly designed permanent life insurance policy can do a lot for your client. However, if you’re only asking for that “max guarantee,” you may be limiting their options and hurting your own credibility.

Indexed Universal Life Guaranteed Universal Life Life Audit Guarantees Life Insurance

Another Day, Another Chance to Take Action


Ever wonder what you would do, could do, or would have done if you had another hour in the day? Or how about an extra day in the year? With Leap Year, we literally get an extra day every four years, but we rarely mark it as an extra opportunity. 

Have you been putting off something you really need to do? Maybe making doctor’s appointment, doing your taxes, replacing the tires on your car, setting up that date night your spouse keeps hinting about, cleaning out the junk drawer that we all have in our house … or even getting around to finding life insurance coverage for your clients. 


What if there is no tomorrow? 

groundhog.jpgLike everyone else, I love to procrastinate – I’ll get that done next year, next month, maybe tomorrow. But what happens if we don’t get that extra day? I’m not talking about February 29 – I’m literally talking about tomorrow. We know today is a gift because tomorrow isn’t promised to us. Think about it: You – or your clients – might not be around tomorrow to get that policy in place. 

“Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.”

– Phil (Bill Murray) in “Groundhog Day”

I know Groundhog Day the holiday is at the opposite end of February, but I think “Groundhog Day” the movie tells the same lesson. In the film, Bill Murray (who in my opinion is one of the all-time greatest comedians) plays Phil, a weatherman covering Punxsutawney Phil’s annual emergence from his burrow. 

Phil not only gets caught in a blizzard that he didn’t predict, but he also finds himself trapped in a time warp. He is doomed to relive the same day over and over again, consistently making mistakes and manipulations until he finally gets it right by doing things for the good of others and not just himself. Only then does he finally get to move on to a new day. 


Take Action

Looking for something good to do with your extra day this year? Or better yet, TODAY? How about helping your clients get the insurance protection they need for their spouse, kids or business.

Take steps to protect them financially so that WHEN, not IF, tomorrow never comes, the people they care about will be able to continue their daily lives, at least without financial hardship or interruption.


About the Author

As an Ash Brokerage RVP, Kevin Orth enjoys establishing and building lasting relationships while having some fun along the way. In addition to having more than 20 years of experience in the life insurance industry, he is a Chartered Life Underwriter®, Fellow of the Life Management Institute and member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. 


Ask an Underwriter: Cardiac Complications


When you come across clients with a cardiac history, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for insurance. Different diagnoses or symptoms require different tests … and lead to different outcomes for underwriting.  

First of all, cardiac disorders or diseases affect the heart in different ways: 

  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular rhythm), sinus bradycardia (very slow heart rate) or tachycardia (very fast heart rate) are disruptions in the “electrical” system or the “wiring” of the heart muscle

  • High blood pressure or coronary artery disease are circulatory disorders

  • Cardiomyopathy, congenital and/or acquired abnormalities (diseases which can affect the heart muscle or valves) are muscular or structural disorders 

The category or type of heart disease an individual is treated for will dictate the diagnostic or routine cardiac exam and/or testing they will undergo. 


“Electrical” disruptions

The basic heart exam will consist of review of symptoms and vital statistics (blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels), plus a stethoscope exam and a resting electrocardiogram (EKG). If further evaluation is needed, a Holter monitor (a continuous recording of a person’s heart rhythm) may be ordered as well as an echocardiogram (ECHO – a type of ultrasound test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the heart).


Circulatory disorders

Exams and testing will include a basic cardiac exam, with a resting EKG and blood work. If further evaluation is needed, there may be one or more of the following tests: stress test or stress test with nuclear imaging (measures a heart’s response to exertion or stress and is induced by exercise or drug stimulation), ECHO, stress ECHO, or cardiac CT angiography. Depending on findings, a more invasive exam, such as cardiac catheterization, may be required.


Muscular or structural disorders

Testing will include the basic cardiac exam, a chest x-ray, and an EKG.  Depending on symptoms and findings, additional testing can include one of more of the following:  ECHO, stress ECHO, cardiac MRI or CT, cardiac catheterization, or a cardiac biopsy.


Underwriting Assessment

When considering an applicant with a cardiac history of any kind, a life insurance underwriter hopes to see that the individual:  

  • Goes to regular follow-up visits with their doctor
  • Follows all treatments, including medication, changes in diet, or exercise (if recommended)
  • Has up-to-date, routine serial cardiac testing (stress test, ECHO, etc.) with results that show stability of the underlying disorder, as well as good heart function

By proving they’re compliant with treatments and doing well, applicants with a cardiac history may be considered more favorably in underwriting, giving them more favorable options for coverage.  

With so many variables involved – from the diagnosis/treatment details to carrier risk assessment – we’ve created three comprehensive questionnaires to assist you in your fact-finding efforts. 

No matter the situation, we encourage you to ask questions and get all the facts. Have a specific question? Check out the resources below or drop me a line and we'll be happy to help.


Learn More


About the Author

For more than 34 years, Charlie Kuhn has taken a personal interest in every case. To her, it’s more than a file – it’s a person trying to protect the people they care about, and she can think of no better vocation than to help provide financial and emotional security for others. Through her personal commitment to continuous professional growth, Charlie is one test away from becoming an Associate of the Life Management Institute. She is already an Associate of Customer Service with LOMA, has passed all three of the Academy of Life Underwriting exams, and is certified in EKG interpretation.



underwriting cardiac heart