Q: Who runs the national LTC Guild?
A: The national Long Term Care Insurance Guild web site was set up and is managed by Richard W. Samson, Director of the EraNova Institute of New Jersey. Over the years Samson and EraNova have provided consulting, human development, and web services to AT&T, Cisco Systems, Economics Press, IBM, LTC Financial Partners, National Institute of Business Management, Pitney Bowes, and others.
Q: How do the local Guilds fit in?
A: Each is an independent entity established and run by individuals in the local geographic or interest area. The local Guilds are legally separate from one another and from the national Guild. The national Guild site relates to the local Guilds only by providing web-based event planning and other communication functions that the local Guilds find useful. Currently there are no financial transfers between the national Guild and the local Guilds; that is, the local Guilds pay nothing for the web services.
Q: Why are there no national membership fees?
A: We considered a small membership fee, but
decided to experiment with unobtrusive advertising and sponsorships
to cover the expenses and pay for future administrative staff. As
yet we have no paying sponsors*, though this could change as
membership and site traffic grow. We hope the combination of ads
and sponsorships will make it unnecessary ever to request
*LTC Financial Partners, LLC has provided support services to help get the national Guild going; these non-monetary contributions might be considered a type of “sponsorship.”
Q. Are there any fees for belonging to the local Guilds?
A: Each Guild is free to do as it pleases, although none that we know of currently charges a recurring membership fee. Members who attend luncheon meetings do, of course, pay for their own meals and may be requested to help cover other expenses.
Q: How did the LTC Guild get started?
A: A couple of agents in the mid-west found out about a local LTC Guild and joined it. They really liked being able to meet with fellow professionals and reach out to potential partners and others in the community. The two agents –- who happened to be with LTC Financial Partners, LLC (LTCFP of Kirkland, WA) -- spread the word, soon leading to the formation of other local Guilds. It wasn’t long before many of the local Guild members saw the need for a web site to help them coordinate their activities, and turned to LTCFP staff for help. LTCFP management felt the site should be run as a separate, independent operation, in line with the independent nature of the locals; and asked one of their contractors, EraNova/Samson, to consider creating and managing such a site. EraNova/Samson agreed, willing to do it as a public service if a paying business model could not be developed.
Q: Who do so many LTCFP producers belong to the national Guild?
A: The early growth of the local Guilds was due to the efforts of LTCFP producers, and LTCFP’s management thought it would be good for the whole industry and the public for the Guild concept to grow. LTCFP also assisted EraNova/Samson in planning the national site, and encouraged their producers and staff to join. Of the first 50 to join the national site, most were associated with LTCFP. However, the proportion has shrunk with membership growth. LTCFP people are now a minority, and we expect them soon to be a small minority. The national Guild site is open for anyone to join -- from any agency or working independently. We now have members from many organizations including insurance carriers as well as diverse agencies; plus financial advisors and others in synergistic professions. The following news items explains LTCFP’s role: http://www.insurancenewsnet.com/article.asp?a=featured_pr&id=104067.
Q: When consumers visit the site and want quotes, what happens to their requests?
A: We currently offer two ways for people to request quotes: (a) find an agent through the membership directory, forum posts, or other content on the site; and (b) fill out an online form. The fill-in form is experimental, to see how the public responds to it, and may be discontinued. The national Guild reserves the right to sell these leads as it sees fit; but at present we do not expect to continue offering the form for long. We’d like most if not all requests for quotes to be made directly to members, through the phone numbers, email addresses, and web links posted in the member profiles.
Q: Does any recruiting go on?
A: We can only speak for the national Guild site. We do not restrict interactions between members, but recommend that no recruiting take place in written form on the site. Ditto for making specific partnership proposals, to financial advisors, for example. Members are encouraged to share information and establish relationships online, but we suggest using other members’ phone numbers or email addresses for more personal communications.
Q: If I wanted to place on ad on the site, could I?
A: Yes and no. Currently we do not accept ads from individual companies or agents. We only run ads via the Google Adsense service. Google’s system automatically determines which ads appear; we have no control over particular ads or their placement. Members and others wishing their ads to appear on the site may do so through Google’s AdWords service: http://www.adwords.google.com. Once registered, be sure to select Google’s content network instead of or in addition to the search options.
Q: Is it OK to say anything I want to on the site?
A: Yes, within reasonable limits of decency.
It’s an open forum. However, we recommend that members review what
they plan to say before posting it, to make sure they are in
compliance with legislation in the states where they are licensed.
The national Guild does not monitor and accepts no responsibility
for content posted by members, so it's up to each person to make
sure his/her information is accurate, in compliance, and appealing
to potential clients. It’s sometimes easy to feel one is in a
private conversation when making a forum post, etc.; but remember
that the site is public, is indexed by the search engines, and may
be read by anyone. A thoroughly professioal demeanor is the best
bet for everyone.