Underwriting Reassessments Drive Long-Term-Care Reform
After years of public scorn for massive premium increases and internal wrangling over mispriced contracts, new forms of long-term care (LTC) coverage are seeing a notable uptick in sales.
Professional and public organizations are digging deeply into the underwriting and actuarial assumptions that were behind traditional LTC policies in hopes of avoiding the same mistakes for the newer hybrid or combination contracts that are based on annuities or permanent life insurance with riders for LTC and disability.
There is, however, not yet any good answer for what to do with the traditional policies that remain in force.
“The cost has never really been a low as people wanted it to be, and carriers were never able to capture the [younger and healthier] people looking ahead.” — Robert Kerzner, president and CEO, Limra, Loma and LL Global
Robert Kerzner, president and CEO of Life Insurance Marketing & Research Association (Limra), Life Office Management Association (Loma), and LL Global, said that traditional LTC coverage was caught between multiple mandates.
“The cost has never really been a low as people wanted it to be, and carriers were never able to capture the [younger and healthier] people looking ahead,” he said.
“The LTC contracts sold were primarily to those close to the age where they would use them. So the business never really got off the ground. There were never a lot of carriers and also not a lot of distribution.”
External factors exacerbated the struggles of traditional LTC coverage. Two in particular were killers: low lapse rates and low interest rates.
“What were the lessons learned?” Kerzner asked rhetorically. “The industry did not have a lot of historical data. We all want to be innovative. I push the industry to innovate. But consumer behavior is not always logical. Another factor was medical breakthroughs. Those changed the game.”
The ideas for LTC 2.0 — hybrid or combination contracts — came from research as sales and premiums for traditional policies shriveled.
“People don’t like paying for insurance and getting nothing back,” said Kerzner. While one of the criticisms of traditional coverage was that they were too complicated, he said, the riders and options on combination contracts are seen as adding value.
Bruce Stahl is vice-chair of the LTC Reform Subcommittee of the American Academy of Actuaries, which expects to publish its analysis and recommendations of LTC by the end of the year.
He is frank about the value of what amounts to forensic underwriting in LTC. “It is helpful to understand the assumptions of the ’80s and ’90s. People made assumptions that were at the time reasonable estimates. The assumptions being made now on newer contracts are more conservative,” especially regarding interest and lapse rates.
“In the early ’90s, the assumption was that lapse rates for LTC coverage was going to behave like Medicare supplement policies, which were about 6 percent at the time. Actual lapse rates for traditional LTC contracts have been less than 1 percent. That has had a strong effect because of more benefits paid out.”
“Insurance companies are designed to be profitable. If traditional LTC is not profitable, it won’t be offered.” — Jesse Slome, executive director, American Association for Long Term Care Insurance
Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, said that it is difficult to document the traction that hybrid LTC contracts are gaining because they are so new, and also because they are spread among permanent life and annuities.
“No one is really tallying the data, but at the Limra-Loma Conference in New Orleans [where he was chair of a panel discussion in September], I was told by carriers that on something between 50 percent and 80 percent of their new life policies, the insured checks the option to get an LTC payout.”
Slome is forthright about the future of the line. “Insurance companies are designed to be profitable. If traditional LTC is not profitable, it won’t be offered. If hybrids are, they will be offered.”
That still leaves the question of what becomes of the early adopters from the ’80s and ’90s, the ones who thought they were being economical and responsible and are clinging to their traditional contracts at the confounding lapse rate of less than 1 percent.
For years, the financial press has been full of horror stories of premium increases of 50 percent, 60 percent and in some cases more than 100 percent. Carriers have been bombarded with outraged complaints, as have regulators and even Slome’s organization.
“What to do about old policies?” asked Slome. “I don’t know. But I suspect the few carriers remaining in that market are counting on state regulators continuing to approve premium increases, and also counting on interest rates rising. Shares of Genworth [the largest issuer of traditional LTC contracts] have become in effect a type of interest-rate play.”
You Can’t Handle the Truth!
We all remember the famous court scene from “A Few Good Men” when Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson come to a highly emotional face off on Code Red. Let’s pretend the case is about excess follow form policies; think of Cruise as the Insured and Nicholson as an excess underwriter. It would go like this:
Insured (Cruise): Is your “excess follow form” policy really follow form?
Judge: You DON’T have to answer that question!
Underwriter (Nicholson): I’ll answer that question (looking at Cruise). You want answers?
Insured: I think I’m entitled to…
Underwriter: You want answers?
Insured: I want the truth!
Son, we live in a world that has many excess follow form policies, and those policies come off shelves and are used for all types of insureds. We don’t have the time or the aspiration to match underlying wordings. . Who’s gonna to do it? You, Mr. or Ms. Insured?
I have a greater responsibility to my shareholders than you could possibly fathom. You weep for generic excess policies that have their own terms and conditions. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That the death of generic “excess follow form” policies, while fortunate, will result in a lot more claim payments and less litigation between Insureds and insurance companies.
My so-called excess follow form policy, while totally misleading and grotesque, pays my dividends. You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about you are too busy, and lose interest when it comes to excess policies.
We use words like “exhaustion,” and “arbitration,” that are different than the same words used in the primary policy. We use these words as the backbone of a lifetime denying claims.
I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a buyer that questions the status quo. Or questions the quote I provide. I would rather you just look the other way like the industry has done for decades and go on your way.
Otherwise, I suggest you get someone who really knows what they are doing. Either way, I do not give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
Insured: Do you bind excess policies with different terms?
Underwriter: I prefer to quote on my own excess follow form wording…
Insured: Do you bind excess policies with different terms?
Underwriter: You’re [email protected] right I do!!!!
A humorous approach to the dialogue that currently has started in the excess D&O, E&O, EPL, Cyber, etc. community.
In Part One- The Problem, we cited the challenges and often devastating results of having different contractual wordings on each layer of a multi-layer program. Qualcomm litigation was an example of a real situation that lead to an unfavorable outcome to the Insured.
Today, we want to share the solution we have developed, and over 15 insurance companies have approved. The policy is called PurX® as in pure excess.
We’re not selling this. PurX is being offered on an open source which will allow all insureds and insurers access to the same wording.
It is a policy that is only 435 words versus the average 1,345-word “excess follow form” policies traditionally used on excess. PurX is a template that allows each underwriter to utilize their Declarations page (this is necessary due to the requirement of listing underlying insurers, claims notification addresses, limit of liability, etc.). PurX leaves the Item number as a fill in.
Most of the underwriting community sees this not only as an opportunity to avoid conflict, but the logical next step in bringing value to its excess layer. It might mean more underwriting, but is a differentiator. It should be noted that not all insureds may qualify for a pure excess.
Sparking Innovation and Motivating Millennials
Two trends in the insurance industry, if they continue, could compromise its vitality in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven business world: slow innovation and a scarcity of millennial talent.
The quests to develop innovative solutions and services and to recruit young people to the field have raised concerns in the industry for several years, causing some insurers to think about how they will stay viable in the future when senior-level managers begin to retire.
But Lexington Insurance Company, a member of AIG, may have found a way to spark innovation that also engages millennial minds.
Innovation Boot Camp started three years ago as a one-off project meant to identify young, high-potential employees, give them exposure to senior management and evaluate their teamwork and leadership capabilities.
“The original concept was fairly straightforward. We would bring together a group of about 30 high potential employees for some semblance of team project work and it would allow management to gauge and assess talent,” said Matt Power, Executive Vice President, Head of Strategic Development, Lexington Insurance.
Little did he know how well the program would not only generate a plethora of innovative ideas that would drive the company forward, but also reinvigorate younger employees.
“The boot camps would be focused on innovation, with the idea that if we ended up with a concept or product that we could commercialize, then the boot camp would have been effectively self-funded. When they came back at the end of the 12 weeks, we were absolutely shocked because they produced about half a dozen products that have since been commercialized and are in some phase of being rolled out.”
— Matt Power, Executive Vice President, Head of Strategic Development, Lexington Insurance
New Ideas Emerge
The inaugural Innovation Boot Camp began with a two-day kick off meeting for participants— consisting of six teams with five or six participants. Each team was tasked with developing a business plan, and began to connect virtually over the next 12 weeks. The plan would culminate in a presentation to a senior management judging panel at the program’s conclusion.
“The boot camps would be focused on innovation, with the idea that if we ended up with a concept or product that we could commercialize, then the boot camp would have been effectively self-funded,” Power said. “When they came back at the end of the 12 weeks, we were absolutely shocked because they produced about half a dozen products that have since been commercialized and are in some phase of being rolled out.”
Power credits the program’s success in part to the participants’ youth. They were tuned in to different trends and issues than their more experienced counterparts.
Cyberbullying, for example, was a problem that didn’t exist for Power and his contemporaries as they grew up, but was salient for millennials. Based on the presentation of one group, Lexington developed coverage on their personalized portfolio for exposures associated with cyberbullying.
Likewise, “they educated us on the emergence of the craft brewing industry and how rapidly it was growing in the U.S.,” Power said. “That led to us launching a whole suite of products for craft brewers.”
Another team brought forth the concept of how rapid sequencing laser photography could be used to create a three-dimensional picture of a construction work site. That would allow contractors or claims managers to virtually walk through the site at a given point in the construction process to identify deviations from the original blueprint plans.
The images could memorialize the building process down to the millimeter, to every screw and wire. If a loss emerges later on due to a construction defect, the 3D map would be a valuable investigation tool.
Innovation Boot Camp proved so successful that Lexington expanded it to other arms of AIG all over the world.
“Suddenly we started getting calls from London, Copenhagen, Brazil,” Power said. “We were doing these programs for our global casualty team, for our lead attorneys in New York, for our financial lines group, and so on. We recently embarked on the 16th iteration of this program in London, with additional programs in the works.
“It’s a journey that has evolved from trying different things and not being afraid to fail, not being afraid to try new ways of thinking about the business.”
Engaging Millennial Minds
In addition to generating new product ideas, Innovation Boot Camp also engages younger employees more fully by offering the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the company through independent work that requires some creative thinking.
Past participants are often great crusaders for the program.
“A program like IBC is something rarely seen at a large corporate conglomerate, and really a concept for new age startup companies,” said Alyson R. Jacobs, Vice President, Broker and Client Engagement Leader in AIG’s Energy & Construction Industry Segment. “But we were given a chance to work with people of all different professional backgrounds, and that environment unearthed concepts and solutions that have made a significant impact in the lives of our insureds and their employees.”
The chance to do work that makes a difference, both for the success of their company as well as the clients its serves, is what attracts millennial employees to the program and motivates them to devote their best effort to the project.
“Millennials want to be able to share their ideas and make meaningful contributions at work,” Power said. “Innovation Boot Camp has evolved into the perfect forum for that.”
David Kennedy, Esq., Product Development Manager for Lexington Insurance and former Coach for two Innovation Boot Camps, said the program engenders an “entrepreneurial spirit of developing something new, of applying analytical rigor to emerging risks to create unique and timely solutions for our clients and the marketplace.”
Exposure to senior executives doesn’t hurt either.
“It provided a platform for me to not just interact with our Senior Executive leadership but present a concept that could potentially be adopted by our company in the future,” said Ryan Pitterson, Assistant Vice President, AIG. “It helps to build your internal network, elevate your profile in the company and connects you with our client base as well.”
At a time when recent college graduates choose employers based on how much opportunity they’ll be given to have meaningful input — as well as opportunities for advancement — projects like Innovation Boot Camp could be the answer to the insurance industry’s struggle to pull in millennials.
“We give them the time, space and resources to create something new,” Power said. “When employee engagement is done right, it inspires passion and creativity.”
As multiple arms of AIG adopt Innovation Boot Camp around the globe, both the quantity and quality of new ideas are bound to flourish.
“The bottom line is, many heads are greater than one, and AIG has figured out how to leverage this. AIG hears their employees’ voices and enables those ideas to take our company into the future,” Jacobs said.
To learn more about Lexington Insurance, visit http://www.lexingtoninsurance.com/home.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Lexington Insurance. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.