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5 long term care salespitches to beware of

Salespitch 3: With the policy you have now, you're going to be really sorry someday!

You should question any agent who is attempting to replace your current policy. Sometimes, agents will try to sell you a policy to replace the one they sold you years ago. The pitch will be that this new and improved policy is so much better. Your current policy may be more than adequate. You can even be taking certain risks by replacing it, including raising new issues with pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, since the premium is usually based upon your age at the time you buy the policy, you'll be in a more expensive rate class.

Often, you can upgrade your current policy for a minimal amount, rather than buy a new policy. The agent makes a much better commission, though, by replacing it.

Part of this pitch is to bad-mouth the other polices on the market. When agents have nothing good to say about their competitors' policies, you should question the ethics of the salesperson. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners — an umbrella group of state insurance regulators — has developed standards for marketing. These standards, which have been adopted by many states, prohibit unethical sales practices.

"Twisting" is one prohibited practice. Twisting is when the agent knowingly makes a misleading representation or incomplete or fraudulent comparison of policies or insurers for the purpose of inducing a person to buy a different policy.

These marketing standards also prohibit "high-pressure tactics" and "cold lead advertising." Cold lead advertising is the failure to conspicuously disclose that its purpose is to sell insurance and that you'll be contacted by an agent or company.

Many times, an agent represents more than one company. Read the fine print of your policy and make sure it is the best one for you.

In insurance-industry publications, you'll see ads to convince agents to sell a particular policy. The ads will promise higher commissions or bonuses for selling a certain number of policies. Many insurance companies offer trips and other incentives for selling their products. A professional agent, especially one with professional designations, will give you the pros and cons of each long term care policy he or she is offering.

All that said, sometimes new policies do have added benefits that old ones don't, such as coverage for community assisted living.

No. 1: You should buy a long-term care policy because it's a write-off!

No. 2: The state insurance department approved this policy!

No. 3: With the policy you have now, you're going to be really sorry someday! (this page)

No. 4: If you buy now, you'll lock in the price forever!

No. 5: Don't worry about the financial rating of the company!

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