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🌟 Exciting Netcast News 🌟

Episode 45 of the Senior Care Industry Netcast is live!

We were fortunate enough to have Bill Comfort, https://www.comfortltc.com/ on our show and he offered some great insight and #advice for other #seniorcare and #healthcare providers.

About This Episode:

Bill Comfort, CSA, CLTC, LTCCP

https://www.comfortltc.com/

EP 45: The Senior Care Industry Netcast with Bill Comfort 3
Bill Comfort
Proudly celebrating 29 years ​in the insurance business!

As a former radio and TV journalist, Bill has a unique ability to take the complicated world of long-term care and communicate planning and insurance implementation options clearly and directly.  Bill’s mission is to help individuals and families properly protect themselves from the financial and emotional costs of a long-term care disability.  He has trademarked the phrase, The LTCpro(R).

Working from offices in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, NC Triangle and the St. Louis metro area, Bill serves clients across the states of North Carolina, Missouri, and many other states across the country.

Bill hosts the broadcast & podcast show: Aging America Radio with a focus on a wide range of topics supporting “successful aging”.

As a Continuing Education instructor certified in all 50 states, he also works with agents nationally to develop their competencies and confidence to effectively integrate long-term care planning solutions into any insurance, benefits, financial planning or advisory practice.  

One of only a few LTC specialists to hold both the Certified Senior Advisor, CSA(R) and Certified in Long-Term Care – CLTC(R) designations, Bill serves as a national faculty member for both prestigious designation programs and is the Director of Training & Development for CLTC.

His agency, Comfort Long Term Care, is a member of the National LTC Network.

Full Transcript:

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

This is Valerie VanBooven with the Senior Care Industry NetCast where leaders with three or more years in the senior care industry share their advice. It’s six questions in nine minutes. So let’s get to it.

In a few sentences, tell us who you are and what you do.

Bill Comfort:

Hi, Valerie, I’m Bill Comfort. I’m the owner of Comfort Longterm Care, which is not a home care or care providing agency, which is what it sounds like. Comfort Longterm Care is a longterm care insurance brokerage agency. So I specialize in longterm care insurance, longterm care planning, if you will. And when appropriate, longterm care insurance in any, or all of its different forms now becomes part of the funding vehicle for being able to pay for care in the future.

Bill Comfort:

I represent multiple companies. I represent multiple different ways of buying longterm care insurance, the traditional type of insurance, as well as these newer hybrid plans that link life and annuities with longterm care benefits.

Bill Comfort:

That’s my main hat. My other hat’s a training hat. I work with financial services professionals and teaching the CLTC, certified in longterm care designation. And I also have been working for the last 12 or 13 years with the home care industry in doing training about longterm care insurance, from the claims perspective, to understand it from that care providers perspective, which is different than the planning and, if you will, sale of the insurance. But they’re two sides to the same coin.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yes. And for our home care agencies or assisted living facilities, or all the folks out there who provide the longterm care services, understanding that claims process and being able to get through it easily or as easily as possible anyway, is really important.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So whether you’re in the market for longterm care insurance, or you want to partner with someone who can help your clients, their adult children, and just generally understanding the claims process, I think you’re probably the best person to turn to.

So we will also make sure, as you guys are watching this, that Bill’s information’s at the bottom of the screen. If you have questions for him, please feel free to reach out. And you serve folks nationwide, right?

Bill Comfort:

I do. Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So that makes it really easy. No matter where you are, he can help.

Bill Comfort:

Right. Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So what is the best thing about providing your clients with longterm care peace of mind?

Bill Comfort:

Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. In thinking about this conversation with you today, I think the two sides to my business, and I enjoy both of them and I’ve been in the insurance business 29 years this year. I’ve sold longterm care insurance, 28 of those years. And I’ve specialized pretty much just in longterm care insurance for 20 years. The two pieces that I enjoy is the planning, helping clients think about how to provide for, live through, deal with a need for care, extended care or longterm care, and funding it, paying for it, is the planning and the providing side.

Bill Comfort:

I’ve been in the business long enough to have had many, many clients of my own, as well as others who I’ve been asked to consult with, who’ve needed care. And I’ve been able to see the insurance products work the way they’re designed to work. I’ve been able to see the value that it brings, not just to the individuals who need care, but more importantly, to their families, to their spouses, their adult kids, and so on.

Bill Comfort:

And that backside or that late stage of involvement with my clients, that providing side, is very rewarding to me. Not really compensated for it, it’s kind of what you put me on retainer for in a way, when you buy an insurance product from me or any other agent in a way. But I really enjoy both sides of that.

Bill Comfort:

It’s interesting, Valerie, you know this. Nobody wants to think about needing care, particularly when you’re healthy and at some unknown time in the future, just like nobody wants to see an attorney to get their wills and trusts in order or even buy life insurance. Who wants to think about it? But that’s the value of good planning. You approach it, you do it, you put it on the shelf. And you then have the security to get on with life. And that’s very rewarding for me to help clients build that peace of mind.

Bill Comfort:

But then also the provision side has been a joy. And I get to see that critical time where just because you need care, doesn’t mean you stop living a good life-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Right.

Bill Comfort:

When it’s done well.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yep, absolutely. I’ve had many family members and folks that I’ve just known in the community over all these years who have gone on claim for longterm care insurance. And it’s amazing how little they have to worry and how much the home care agency or the agent together with the home care agency or the nursing home, or assisted living works with them to get those claims paid and to get the paperwork done properly. And it is total peace of mind, because if you think about how long they’ve been on claim at this point, some of them, they would have run through hundreds of thousands of dollars in care costs by now.

Bill Comfort:

And it’s interesting. You’re exactly right. It’s not just financial. It’s directly financial, right? The insurance helps pay for the cost of professional care, whether it’s in your home or assisted living and so on.

Bill Comfort:

But it’s also emotional. It takes a huge piece off the shoulders, not just to the person who needs care, but often more importantly, the other folks, the spouse, the partner, those adult kids. And I have seen families have very practical relief, if not emotional relief with the benefit, this is going back some years now, but of $50 a day. Where the adult kids have said, “You know, that’s 1500 a month. And that has kept us from touching the principle in mom’s estate, that was enough.”

Bill Comfort:

And I’ve had clients who maybe could have written a check out of their own pocket for care, self-insuring or self-funding. And they’ve said to me, “It was so much easier to ask the insurance company, as opposed to asking for the money that we didn’t know how it might work if we had to use our own funds or mom’s own funds or whatever it would be.” So there’s a range in there. And what’s interesting is that becomes part of that initial planning conversation is really being able to understand with each unique client, how that could, should work at some time in the future.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

I guess if I’m muted, I can’t talk to you. What do you actually need? What do you want to be able to pay for? What do you want the insurance to pay for? There’s so many questions in there. And that’s why folks like you exist so that someone can talk to a professional and plan wisely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. Let’s talk a little, switch it up a little bit and talk about online marketing. You’re nationwide now. And you do, I would guess, the travel has probably cut down a bit. And you’re marketing yourself online, which you’ve probably done for a long time. I know you’ve had a website for a long time.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

It can be confusing and ever changing. What has been your experience or thoughts?

How are you getting the word out and talking to folks now that we kind of aren’t meeting in person right now?

Bill Comfort:

Yeah, yeah. So a couple of thoughts about that. First of all, I think my general advice is don’t be afraid of the technology. Use it as an extension of yourself. I mean, this is somewhat goes without saying, but everybody’s on Facebook. Every professional, every business owner obviously should be on LinkedIn. Be yourself, share news articles with a little bit of commentary about your business, what you see, if you can add your own opinion or flavor to that, all the better.

Bill Comfort:

LinkedIn is a little more, again, business to business. But everybody else who’s on LinkedIn, they have parents. They have people who are perhaps aging needing care and so on, and Facebook and Twitter and so on. So I think don’t be afraid of it. Just be yourself, but have something regular you’re saying about your business. I think that’s the first step.

Bill Comfort:

Beyond that, what other tools are available? Resources like your network, Valerie, and connections that you can make that way kind of help bridge some of those, I think broader technology issues, and find ones that work for your business. I feel like I’m still learning. I’m pretty good at it. But I’m not as good as some other people who I admire and know in the business that are my peers, that have been doing it maybe longer or better or deeper.

Bill Comfort:

And by the way, it’s just an extension of the basic blocking and tackling a business. You got to reach out to your prospects, centers of influence, who can refer business to you. You can still pick up the phone or have a Zoom chat, or FaceTime, whatever that might be. You have to keep doing those things. Social media, online marketing, doesn’t replace those other things. We can’t go to networking meetings anymore. But we can sure as heck keep reaching out to people in our community that ought to be referring business to us and knowing what we’re doing.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. And everybody’s in the same boat. So it’s not as if you’re the only one having a Zoom meeting.

Bill Comfort:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And I am really impressed with our baby boomers and I guess I would be a Gen X. And I do, but some of us have never had to use Zoom or, other than family connections on Facebook and things like that. But people are picking it up. It’s not-

Bill Comfort:

And that’s the other thing, don’t be afraid to ask your clients, your potential clients to use the technology. I give an opportunity, would you like to just have a phone call or would you like to connect via Zoom? I want people to be comfortable either way. If they say, “What do you prefer?” I say, “I prefer Zoom. I’d like to see your face, make the connection.” Even people I already know, that’s a nice way, to get the verbal or excuse me, the physical communication along with the verbal.

Bill Comfort:

So don’t be afraid. My main market is probably 45 to 70 for the planning, fifties and sixties, for the most part. And I’ll tell you what, everyone is so comfortable, especially because we’ve been learning it.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Bill Comfort:

But I have families that claim time where we’re having Zoom meetings with the folks in their seventies, early eighties, maybe getting some help from their adult kids, but don’t be afraid to ask clients to use the technology.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. They will. They’ll figure it out. They’ll try.

Bill Comfort:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

And they can always practice. No one has to be brilliant at this. It’s just, you give it a try and see what you can come up with. It is a learning curve for everybody. Absolutely.

Bill Comfort:

It’s our new way of connecting personally.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Totally, it is. Yeah, yeah. All right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Let’s see here. Okay. Let’s go back to your wisdom and your longevity in this market. I would imagine that over time, I know you’re a mentor to many. And you’re an inspiration to many in the longterm care insurance field.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

What other successful leaders out there or organizations there might be organizations you think are doing a great job or people out there you know that have been doing a great job for a very long time in this market.

Who or What Organizations Would You Like to Recognize?

Bill Comfort:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great question. And there’s one and I’m sorry, you don’t know who it was, but it was back in the mid-nineties where I was really beginning to dig into the longterm care insurance business and developing that specialty. And I went to a training session. And this guy was doing a CE course. And he said, “When you see the letters LTC,” and he was talking to a room full of agents about the insurance. But he said, “When you see the letters LTC, think of it standing for Look To Claims.” In other words, understand what the insurance is supposed to pay for in understanding the insurance.

Bill Comfort:

And that just hit me. That rang my bell in a good way. And so a couple of things that have then connected, the CSA certified senior advisor program is a training course. I was on the faculty for 10 or so in the first part of the 2002 to 12 or so. That program really, no matter what your profession is, helps you understand what is aging? What is aging successfully? Where do the problems come in? It’s not an insurance course. It’s not any profession. It’s an understanding about aging.

Bill Comfort:

But it really resonated with me in that idea of I’m helping people plan for this later time in life. And of course, the CLTC program founded by Harley Gordon, an elder law attorney to teach financial services professionals certified in longterm care, how to position longterm care insurance as the funding tool for a plan, not just a product in and of itself.

So within my business, those have been the key influencers and I just, the CSA program still has tremendous educational value for folks.

And one other group, among many care providers, but getting to work with several big national franchises, particularly home instead senior care, and the founders, Paul and Lori Hogan, who asked me to help do training for their organization about claims, understanding longterm care claims and being involved in some of their educational, not just for their company, but really for that industry.

Bill Comfort:

It’s been a huge influence for me to continue to remember that LTC means look to claims, not just an insurance sale.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s great. That is great. And I’ve never heard that. And it makes so much sense. So I’m glad you said that. And also, I mean, as you know, many, many home care agency owners, marketers, and folks all over the senior care industry have that CSA designation.

Bill Comfort:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So definitely is one that has taught so many people across this country about what it’s like to age, and what you can expect, and how to plan for it.

Bill Comfort:

And how to communicate most effectively.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Communication.

Bill Comfort:

With all ages across this idea of getting older, which we all are.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah, absolutely. Oh yeah, we totally are. Oh my goodness. All right. What piece of advice would you give to others in the senior care industry about longterm care insurance?

Bill Comfort:

Yeah. So particularly care providers, home care, agency, owners, key people, assisted living, and so on, related to longterm care insurance, make sure that you’ve got a good understanding or a good partner to help you understand and work with this crazy variety of different types of policies, not just different types of policies, but policies across 20 or 30 years.

Bill Comfort:

If you have a client that’s 85, and they own longterm care insurance, if they bought it 30 years ago, the definitions may work very differently than how we know and understand longterm care insurance, the way it works and is built today. And understanding those differences can be very helpful in eliminating a lot of frustration on your part in your business, as well as for your clients and their families. That’s a process of, of learning. But again, look to claims, working to understand the insurance from that perspective.

Bill Comfort:

And in my business, working with those providers, part of my training, the value for me is the clients of senior care providers are not my clients. They already need care. But all of those adult children are. And helping everyone have a successful experience with the coverage, benefits everyone, and creates opportunities for referrals and business connections as well.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Right. I mean, those kids are in a good position. They understand what’s happening. In the moment, they see what their parents are going through. And that’s when usually most of our light bulbs go on that, “Hey, I’m going to head down the same or a similar path probably or maybe. It depends on how I live my life. And there’s no predictors out there as to what’s going to happen tomorrow.

So if I don’t want to end up on Medicaid or I don’t mind sharing that partnership with my state and Medicaid and longterm care, whatever it is, they’re learning right now is their parent is going through this, what they should do and probably shouldn’t do or wish their parent would have done.”

Bill Comfort:

Right. Yeah. How can I be in the same position as mom and dad? Or how can I not end up in the same position as mom and dad? Exactly.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Much different things. And I think what you said about understanding that a 75, 85 year old may have a policy that’s 20 or 30 years old, that is really important to understand, I think. Because they change so much between 30 years ago, 20 years ago, and 10 years ago, those policies have changed quite a bit. So every single time somebody goes on claim, even if it’s the same company that you’ve dealt with before, it may be a completely different animal than the last time.

Bill Comfort:

Right. And there’s an explosion of new policies which are called combo or hybrid or linked benefit. Some of them are purpose built for longterm care. And those work like any other longterm care policy that we’ve gotten to know over the last 10, 15 years.

Bill Comfort:

But there’s also a whole bunch of writers now that are just called chronic illness. And I have to tell you, Valerie, new policies being issued today that are just under this generic chronic illness benefit, the definitions are all over the map. Some of them don’t even trigger benefits for a cognitive impairment. It’s ADL only.

Bill Comfort:

And as you know, if you have early stage Alzheimer’s or dementia, you’re doing all your ADLs. But you’ve got to have help and supervision in your life. So I think we’re going to see a new round of frustrating policy definitions, where these things aren’t paying the way clients or care providers want or hope for them to.

Bill Comfort:

So continuing to understand it is an ongoing process.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah. Consult with someone who understands the language before signing on the dotted line.

Bill Comfort:

Exactly.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Because I can see that that’s a tricky little difference, ADLs versus cognitive impairment. Yeah. That’s pretty tricky. I mean, I think I use it as an example all the time. He had cognitive impairment way before he couldn’t do his own ADLs. And could his wife have used some respite care a little bit, somebody to just come in and hang out with him for a few hours a day while she went? Absolutely.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Could he have wandered off and got into some big trouble, even though he can still give himself a bath? Absolutely.

Bill Comfort:

Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So yeah. So there’s some tricky languages that we need to understand for sure.

Bill Comfort:

Right. Right.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

All right. My last question is supposed to be a fun one.

Bill Comfort:

Okay.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

When you have a win in life, it could be a personal win. It could be like a marriage, a graduation, or it could be a business win,

How do you celebrate?

Bill Comfort:

Oh, that’s an interesting question. If it’s a business win, I mean a sale, a completed plan, that kind of thing, I think my first reaction to that would just be to say, “Next.” I mean, that’s my paycheck, right? So where’s my next paycheck coming from? I have to go back to work. So I don’t explicitly celebrate those. Even if it’s a big case or an above average kind of a case or a commission, even for me, that’s the way the business runs.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Bill Comfort:

Now, there are times that that special things happen, whether they’re personal or related to business, especially I think a nice dinner, going out, or staying in and cooking a nice dinner-

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Depending on the day, right?

Bill Comfort:

And involves a good bottle of wine.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Yeah.

Bill Comfort:

So, I think celebrating, connecting with people you care about and enjoying life that way, even if it’s not directly related to that win, being purposeful about connecting with folks. And I love to cook. And so food and wine is probably my main route to celebrate those wins in life.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

That’s a good response, I think. Right now we’re not necessarily, I mean, going out to dinner as a possibility right now, especially a nice place we can have a little private celebration of just having a good year or having a good, I don’t know who’s having a good year right now, but you know what I mean? Like having a good month or whatever, or just taking some time to relax together as a family. I think those are important things to celebrate all the time, as much as possible, even at home with a nice dinner.

Bill Comfort:

Yeah.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

So either way, just enjoying the life that we have is a good way to celebrate. So thank you very much for being on the show.

Bill Comfort:

You’re welcome.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you for educating us. And this is all about imparting wisdom and good news and helping others understand not only how we do business, but also how we can do business better in this market. So I appreciate you being on the show and sharing with us.

Bill Comfort:

You’re very welcome.

Valerie VanBooven RN BSN:

Thank you.