Thursday, July 19, 2012

Outstanding Carrier Trick [UPDATED]

[UPDATE: To participate, click here, then click "Like"]

MassMutual and Easter Seals are once again teaming up to increase awareness of the important decisions and financial challenges facing families with special needs members. Taking advantage of social media, they've launched a cool FaceBook video giving folks a glimpse into the every day lives of a mother with a special needs child. What's more, MassMutual will donate $5 to Easter Seals for every "Like" the video garners.

Courtney Denning offered us the opportunity to interview Joanne Gruskos, director of MassMutual’s SpecialCares program, and we (of course) jumped at the chance:

InsureBlog: How did you become interested in/involved with MM and the special needs area?

Joanne Gruskos: Well, I'm a longtime employee of MassMutual, primarily in sales and marketing. After we started the trust company in 2000, we began to grow our relationship with Easter Seals. We had a lot of interest from trust administrators from around the country, which we took as an opportunity to do something new.

This grew into a partnership with the American College, with which we developed an exclusive special needs curriculum and designation. This is slated to go industry-wide in the near future.

IB: Would you share some of the home history of the MM/ES partnership?

JG: Let's say you're a financial planner. and one of your clients is a family with children developing just fine, and one special needs child. Your task is now complicated by the fact that you have to account for the parents' lifetimes, plus the special needs child's lifetime. This can be quite challenging.

And it gets more difficult: you have to coordinate this with government and other programs, because if you screw up eligibility, you could cost the family a lot of money. Easter Seals is instrumental in helping us thread these needles.

IB: Is there a central directory/database of folks who've earned the spcial needs consultant designation?

JG: Yes, in fact we have an extensive website that's chock full of helpful information, including advisors, FAQ's, all kinds of resources to help navigate all the different programs and opportunities.

IB: What would be the one thing you'd most like our readers to know about MM/ES and special needs?

JG: We believe that "who matters to you matters to us." In fact, we've distilled this into a short but powerful video that helps people understand more of what we do and why we do it.

We're here to help you when you're ready to start planning. This is such a critical need that we really don't push product, we push education.

Thanks, Joanne, for your time and insights. For readers who are interested in learning more (and for agents interested in pursuing the special needs designation), there's a wealth of information at the MassMutual Special Needs website.

Oh, and that video Joanne mentioned above? Here you go:

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