page header

Clear & concise in all communications

Always act in the best interest of our clients

NAOSA Gold Standards of Professional PracticeTM

Each member profession of the National Association of Senior Advocates has a standard of guidelines that our members must abide. We call these the Gold Standards of Professional Practice.

All members of NAOSA agree to always act in a client’s best interest. Over and above all state, federal and specific industry rules and regulations, all work will be performed with the goal of maximizing the benefit to the client, rather than maximizing the profit of our Professional Members.

Additionally, each Professional Member of the National Association of Senior Advocates must follow and act in accordance with a Standard of Guidelines. We call these theNAOSA Gold Standards of Professional Practice. ™

The NAOSA Gold Standards have been created by professionals in their specific fields. The NAOSA Gold Standards strive to eliminate any gray areas that may exist in various business practices. Although these gray areas may be legal in many cases, NAOSA experts agree that they generally do not serve the best interest of the consumer.

The NAOSA Gold Standards of Professional Practice™ also strive to offer transparency in various professions, and aim to educate consumers on the various business models of these professions. Consumers must have information to make an educated decision when considering a specific product or service.

Members who are found not in compliance with these standards will be censured, with membership revoked immediately.

Click on each industry to find out more.

Auto Insurance
Insurance and Investments
Real Estate
Legal Professionals
Senior Housing Placement
The Trades
Long-Term Care Insurance

Auto Insurance

Auto Insurance

Over and above state, federal and company requirements, the National Association of Senior Advocates member professionals have identified two business practices in the auto insurance industry that make up our Gold Standards of Professional Practice. All members of NAOSA agree to the following:

  1. Policy Replacement: Some auto insurance agents will not quote similar coverage when attempting to replace a competitor's policy. Instead, the agents will suggest less coverage in multiple areas, which will have the obvious effect of a lower premium. In many situations, the current policy that is the target for replacement is no more expensive than the replacement policy if the agent performed an "apples to apples" comparison. Therefore, when comparing policies for potential replacement, all comparisons will be made utilizing a "line-by-line" comparison method. Comparison quotes will be for the exact amount of coverage currently in force. Only after such comparison may recommendations be made for decreasing or increasing current coverage.
  2. Quoting State Coverage Minimums: At times, unethical agents will quote the minimum coverage required by the state in order to win business. In reality, the vast majority of drivers will be required to carry coverage over and above these minimums. This is a classic "bait and switch" scenario. At no time will a NAOSA member utilize this tactic by quoting state minimum coverage unless specifically asked to do so by the customer.

We welcome your input. If you are a professional and have any constructive comments or suggestions on the NAOSA Gold Standards, please send us an email to info@NAOSA.ORG

Insurance and investment brokers

Insurance and Investments

The basic premise for the NAOSA Gold Standards of Professional Practice for investment brokers and life insurance agents/brokers is the requirement to be clear & concise in all communications and to always offer the best product at the lowest cost to the client. Although brokers and agents are obligated to ethics rules by the federal and state governments as well as member associations, there are still many gray areas that have not been addressed.

As stated above, when recommending similar products, policies, annuities or investments, a member of NAOSA will offer the product and solution that is the lowest cost to the client. A similar product is defined as one that has: the same guarantees, similar historical rate of return and/or similar objective.

In addition to ethics requirements already in place, the National Association of Senior Advocates member professionals have identified several business practices and/or products that require more clarification or elimination. With the goal of always working in a client’s best interest, all investment brokers and insurance agents/brokers agree to the following:

Annuities:

When selling annuities with a surrender period of over 7 years, agents will perform a thorough cost analysis with annuities with similar investment objectives and featuring surrender periods of seven (7) years and under. The member agent will recommend the annuity with maximum NET rate of return. Policy interest rate projections will utilize a similar rate of return when comparing annuities with a similar underlying investment.

NAOSA members will be particularly vigilant when selling “bonus annuities”, an annuity offering an upfront interest rate bonus to the client. At times, a bonus annuity will have higher internal expenses, with the final outcome being an equivalent or lower NET rate of return even after the bonus money is applied. In such cases, the agent will recommend the higher NET rate of return annuity, regardless of the upfront bonus.


Percent of Assets Invested: Other than annuities with the sole objective of guaranteed income, agents will not advise a client to invest more than 50% of investable assets in an annuity.
Replacement of Annuities within the Surrender Charge Period: Agents will not replace one annuity for another investment within an annuity’s surrender period unless the client has an emergency that requires a withdrawal and has exhausted all other options within their portfolio.

Replacement of Annuities outside the Surrender Charge Period: Agents will not replace one annuity for another annuity outside of an annuity’s surrender period unless the client’s investment strategy has changed or the guaranteed NET rate of return on the replacement annuity is demonstrably higher.

Indexed Annuities: Agents will21 provide full disclosure on indexed annuities. Clients must have a clear understanding in writing of the difference between Cash Value, Cash Surrender Value and The Protected or Guaranteed Value. When discussing the guaranteed growth rates, it must be disclosed that the guarantee only increases the amount available for income. The overall underlying value of the investment will only grow according to how it is invested. The client must have a clear understanding that the primary objective of indexed annuities is guaranteed income, not overall cash value available for lump sum withdrawal or to pass on to heirs. The client must also have a clear understanding of the affect withdrawals or an income stream will have on the overall cash value.

 

Investments:

An agent will not switch a client’s mutual fund from an A share fund to a C share fund unless the total management cost to client will decrease or the client’s investment objective has changed.

An agent will clearly explain their compensation structure. Agents will not state an investment is “no-cost” when offering C shares or no-load funds that are subject to an advisory fee.

 

Life Insurance:

Agents will recommend life insurance on a needs basis and will recommend need over policy type. With the exception of Final Expense Policies, NAOSA members will never sell a permanent policy for a short term need.

Low or moderate income families will not be recommended a permanent policy if the policy does not cover the insured’s total needs, i.e. income replacement, mortgage pay-off, education, etc.

If the NAOSA member professional is also acting as a financial planner or investment advisor, the member professional will review all investment goals and advise accordingly. If a client has goals that would be better suited through products other than permanent life insurance, the NAOSA member professional will recommend the appropriate product.

Policy Replacement: With the exception of the following, agents will not replace an existing whole life or universal life policy for a new policy:

  • The client has a clear and stated need for more insurance and/or the agent can clearly demonstrate an insurance cost savings (as opposed to premium cost savings) with the replacement policy.
  • The client has an underfunded Universal Life policy (the policy will lapse under current premiums) and the proposed replacement policy has a lower or equivalent cost while providing guaranteed coverage.
  • The client has a long-term care (LTC) need and the proposed policy can pay for LTC by way of an accelerated death benefit and/or extension of benefits rider. This exception only applies under the following circumstances:
    • There is a stated need for long-term insurance and the replacement policy has a guaranteed premium and death benefit. In addition, the following conditions must be met: The premium and benefits associated with the accelerated death benefit chronic illness rider (101g), LTC rider (7702b) or LTC extension of benefits rider must be guaranteed.
    • If a 101g chronic illness rider is proposed, a compensable chronic illness must not require the condition to be permanent
    • The client cannot obtain an individual LTC policy due to lack of additional funds or lack of insurability and/or the client is reluctant to buy a LTC policy, with non-guaranteed premiums, that may never be needed (i.e. long term care may never be needed in one’s lifetime, but life insurance will eventually pay a death benefit).

We welcome your input. If you are a professional and have any constructive comments or suggestions on the NAOSA Gold Standards, please send us an email to info@NAOSA.ORG

Real Estate

The basic premise for the NAOSA Gold Standard of Professional Practice in the real estate profession is the requirement to be clear & concise in all communications and to avoid conflicts of interest. Although real estate agents are obligated to ethics rules by the state and members associations, there are still many gray areas that have not been addressed.

In addition to ethics requirements already in place, the National Association of Senior Advocates member professionals have identified several business practices that require more clarification or elimination in real estate transactions. With the goal of always working in a client’s best interest, all real estate agents agree to the following:

1. Pocket Listing or Quiet Listing: At no point and time will an agent suggest a “pocket listing”, sometimes referred to as a “quiet listing”, unless the intent of the client is to privately sell their house. Pocket listings occur when an agent does not list a house on the MLS. Instead, agents will only notify their own prospective buyer and/or a close network of other agents.

The reason to avoid pocket listings is that in many cases a pocket listing will result in a lower sale amount for a home due to the lack of exposure to the general public. A client may still choose a pocket listing if the primary goal is privacy or a “no-hassle” sale. A disclosure form that clearly states the downside of a pocket listing is recommended if the client chooses a pocket listing. The “MLS Opt-Out” form is insufficient and is not an acceptable disclosure.

2. Dual Representation: An agent will not represent both the buyer and seller, formally or informally, in the same real estate transaction. The role of an agent is to represent the best interest of his/her client. In the majority of real estate transactions, the seller’s goal is to maximize the price for their home, while the buyer’s goal is to pay the lowest price. Experts agree that in the vast majority of transactions, this not achievable if an agent represents both parties. Therefore, members of NAOSA agree not engage in dual representation.

3. Team Selling: All agencies that represent themselves as a team, backed by a prominent agent, will clearly disclose, in writing, which agent will be the lead agent in the sales process.

4. Real estate agents will not mislead clients regarding: Experience or ranking among other agents in the area, such as claiming to be a "top agent" or "No. 1 agent" in the area; representing number of listings; representing area of specialty and/or ability to sell a house for a greater value due to their experience.

5. Listing an Overpriced Property: While agents usually urge sellers to price at market value or lower, some agents will not challenge sellers who insist on asking too much for their homes. Some agents use overpriced homes as buyer magnets as it provides an opportunity to pick up unrepresented buyers. Agents may also accept a listing at a higher price, knowing that they will advise the client to reduce the listing price within several weeks. Agents may only accept such listings after the seller is educated on the risks of listing an overpriced property and demands a listing at the higher price.

6. Steering: At no time will a NAOSA member steer a client to a certain listing. Steering can occur in many instances:

  • Buyers’ agents will steer clients towards properties that offer higher commissions.
  • Agents will not steer clients to a particular real estate agency in the hopes of dominating a market and/or blackballing listings from other agencies.
  • Buyer's agents will at times show only their own listings, or company's own listings, hoping to maximize commission.
  • Buyer's agents will at times not show clients homes listed by certain brokerage companies based on reputation or past experiences.

7. Buyer's agents will always show a property regardless of commission: Some real estate agents will not show homes with less than customary commissions. NAOSA member Agents will show all properties of interest to their clients, regardless of the commission. If the commission is less than the buyer broker agreement stipulates, the agent will explain the ramifications and contractual obligations to the buyer before showing the property.
8. Agents will not:

  • Underprice homes for quick sale, unless requested by seller.
  • Accept referral fees and/ or gifts from the service providers.
  • Allow their clients to pay hidden fees at time of settlement.
  • Tell a buyer that there are other buyers interested or other offers pending on the property if untrue

9. Will always report a predatory lending situation.

We welcome your input. If you are a professional and have any constructive comments or suggestions on the NAOSA Gold Standards, please send us an email to info@NAOSA.ORG

Legal Professionals

The basic premise for the NAOSA Gold Standards of Professional Practice in the legal profession is the requirement to be clear & concise in all billing. Although legally obligated to bill correctly and not overcharge, many times legal professionals will bill for services that are unexpected by the client. This is not to imply that the professional is acting unethically. Many times, a client will agree to certain work and, later, request additional services without fully understanding that this will increase the total cost.

To avoid confusion and unexpected charges, all legal professionals who are members of NAOSA agree to the following:

1. Fixed prices or accurate price ranges for requested work pertaining to wills, trusts and housing placement . All work will be quoted prior to engagement agreement between Client and Legal Professional. If an exact amount cannot be given, then a minimum and maximum will be quoted. A clear written explanation will be given as to what would impact costs of work on the maximum end of the quote spectrum.

2. If at any time a Client requests additional work to be performed that is outside of the scope of the original work request, a new estimate will be given in writing and advanced authorization is required. For example, if a Client’s original request is a will or trust and then the Client requests advice on a matter unrelated to wills and trusts, the legal professional will communicate to the client the fact that there will be additional charges relating to the additional work.

We welcome your input. If you are a professional and have any constructive comments or suggestions on the NAOSA Gold Standards, please send us an email to info@NAOSA.ORG

Senior Housing Placement

The basic premise for the NAOSA Gold Standards of Professional Practice in Senior Housing Placement is full disclosure as to how the placement company or individual is compensated. With the exception of government agencies, there are two financial models under which senior housing placement agencies operate:

1. Fee based Agencies: These agencies include geriatric case managers, an attorney or other company specializing in senior housing. These agencies charge a fee directly to the client for services rendered.

2. “No-Cost” Agencies: The vast majority of nationally known companies specializing in senior housing placement are compensated by the actual retirement community, assisted living community or skilled nursing center. In general, these companies do not charge the client. Instead, they operate as a broker for these communities.

Gold Standards: To assist seniors in knowing that their best interest is first and foremost, NAOSA has three Gold Standards for the Senior Housing placement:

1. All agents of senior placement agencies must meet with each client before making recommendations.

2. The agency will provide full disclosure on how the company or individual is compensated.

3. All Senior Placement Members of NAOSA agree to always act in the best interest of their clients. Most importantly, if a client has a specific need or desire that a NAOSA Member agency cannot fulfill, the Member agency will immediately disclose this fact and refer the client to the appropriate resource.

Which Agency Model is Better? It is up to the consumer to choose which is a better option. If you choose a "no-cost" agency, the consumer must understand that the agency does not represent all options in the area. With the exception of NAOSA Members, these agencies may not refer a client to a community that does not offer compensation. On the other hand, the consumer should not assume that the "fee-based" companies, those that charge the client directly, have expertise in all options and communities in the area.

We welcome your input. If you are a professional and have any constructive comments or suggestions on the NAOSA Gold Standards, please send us an email to info@NAOSA.ORG

The Trades

The Trades

(Electrical, Handy-Man Services, Home Improvement, HVAC, Landscaping/Lawn Care, Painting and Plumbing)

The basic premise for the NAOSA Gold Standard of Professional Practice™ in the Trades is the requirement to be clear and concise in all quotes and to perform all services as agreed upon within the promised timeframe. Equally important is clear communication between the client and the NAOSA Trade Professional regarding expectations of the work to be completed. Many conflicts arise due to lack of communication regarding details of work expectations, the NAOSA Gold Standards assist both parties in establishing these expectations.

Special Note: The number one way consumers can prevent fraud or unethical businesses practices in the trades is to have already interviewed a contractor prior to any work needed. Experts also recommend interviewing more than one professional. Consumers are particularity vulnerable in emergencies. It is best to have an established relationship with a tradesperson before any actual service is required. This simple step as well as working with a NAOSA Member Professional will go a long way in ensuring you are dealing with an ethical tradesperson.

Gold Standards of Professional Practice:

1. Licensed and Insured: All NAOSA Member Professionals will be licensed and insured. NAOSA members will offer to show identification, a state license and proof of current insurance when requested.

2. Clear Communication of Work to be Completed: All components of the job will be clearly communicated in writing prior to work beginning. This is a common challenge with both the homeowner and the tradesperson. When details of the job are vague, issue are bound to arise. With the goal of preventing miscommunication, all NAOSA members will clearly detail, in writing, the full scope of the work to be performed.

3. Accurate Quotes: All work to be done will be quoted accurately. Work will not be underbid with expectation of additional payment once work has begun.

Be on the look-out for companies that are underbid or use inferior products. This is a common practice among unethical tradespeople. This typical “bait and switch” tactic can win a low ball contractor the job, but there is usually an extra charge during the project or expected work not included.

NAOSA members are not in the business of underbidding. Instead, NAOSA members pledge to deliver high quality work for a fair price. This means that NAOSA members may not be the lowest bid for your work. But, you can rest assured, the work will be delivered as promised at he agreed price.

4. Quotes Will Include All Parts and Materials: Another tactic utilized by unethical tradespeople is quoting a certain part or brand and then substituting an inferior part. By specifically naming parts and materials in the initial quote, NAOSA member professionals will ensure the consumer is getting exactly the item for which they paid.

5. Completion Date of Job will be Provided in Writing: All work will be done within the specified timeframe. If work is not performed as agreed in writing, the client may cancel the agreement and withhold any further payment. A job is not considered late in cases where the client requests additional work to be done mid-project, commonly referred to as a change order. Change orders cause both time delays and increased costs. A job also will not be considered late in cases where undisclosed issues or an issue that would be unknown to both parties appear in the home or other place of work being performed (Inclement weather, previous structural damage, faulty wiring, faulty plumbing, etc.)

6. Full Payment for Work will not be Made Until All is Work is Done Completely and Correctly: NAOSA members will not require full payment until the job is complete. This Gold Standard does not apply to change orders or unknown issues where applicable as outlined in Gold Standard #5 above.

7. A Written Receipt will be Given at Time of Payment: A receipt is important in case something goes wrong and also for possible tax deductions. This is especially important with cash payments. NAOSA Member Professionals will always provide a written receipt.

8. Mark-up of Prices in Affluent Neighborhoods: This is a common practice in many trades. NAOSA members do not engage in this business practice and will charge the same price regardless of the neighborhood.

We welcome your input. If you are a professional and have any constructive comments or suggestions on the NAOSA Gold Standards, please send us an email to info@NAOSA.ORG

Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-Term Care Insurance

All members of NAOSA agree to always act in a client’s best interest. Over and above all state, federal and specific industry rules and regulations, all work will be performed with the goal of maximizing the benefit to the client, rather than maximizing the profit of our Professional Members.

The NAOSA Gold Standards have been created by professionals in their specific fields. The NAOSA Gold Standards strive to eliminate any gray areas that may exist in various business practices. Although these gray areas may be legal in many cases, NAOSA experts agree that they generally do not serve the best interest of the consumer. Members who are found not in compliance with these standards will be censured, with membership revoked immediately.

The basic premise for the NAOSA Gold Standards of Professional Practice for Long Term Care Insurance is the requirement that NAOSA Members conduct an in-depth analysis and comprehensive approach to solution development. Although brokers and agents are obligated to ethics rules by the federal and state governments as well as member associations, there are still many gray areas that have not been addressed.

In addition to ethics requirements already in place, the National Association of Senior Advocates member professionals have identified several business practices and/or products that require more clarification or elimination. With the goal of always working in a client’s best interest, all NAOSA Members agree to the following:

1. Policy Replacement: Policy Replacement is rarely appropriate, even with an older policy facing a rate increase. Even at the higher premiums, the old policy is probably a good value and worth keeping.

Why retain your current policy?

  • Older policies facing rate increases may have lifetime benefits and 5% inflation coverage. These benefits are generally not available in today’s policies.
  • Benefits in older policies may be reduced to lower premiums, while still maintaining meaningful coverage. This is important if the older policy contains benefits such as those described above that may not be available with a replacement policy.

Replacement is only warranted if the clients insists in writing that they want a hybrid or linked-benefit product. These products typically offer guaranteed premiums and a death benefit if long-term care is never needed. If these features aren’t important to the client, a NAOSA Member may not replace the policy.

2. Type of Policy: There are multiple types of policies that may be used to transfer the long-term care risk. Some combine life insurance and long term care insurance, others combine annuities and long term care insurance and there are stand-alone long term care policies as well.There is no one best policy type. Consideration must be given to age(s), couple status, income and assets, health histories, source(s) of funds to pay premiums, preferences, multiple insurance needs and state approvals of policies/riders. All members of NAOSA will have a full understanding of the client’s situation and needs and will not sell a policy that fails to meet them.

3. Type of Policy: Unethical or unknowledgeable agents will generally quote the best possible rate to gain a client’s attention. If a client has an unfavorable health history, the final rate offered by the insurer generally will not be the insurance company’s best rate as quoted. Unfortunately, the client is likely to accept a higher rate as opposed to starting the process over again with another agent. This is a typical “bait and switch” tactic and is unacceptable to NAOSA Members. All members of NAOSA will ask appropriate questions regarding client health history and obtain underwriting predeterminations before presenting policy illustrations. A higher rate may still be possible after underwriting discloses unknown or undisclosed issues, but obtaining underwriting predeterminations will give the client the best estimate prior to application.

4. Presenting Multiple Carriers: In general, individuals with limited savings and income are not appropriate candidates for long-term care insurance. However, such a client may still feel some insurance is better than no insurance. Therefore, when recommending traditional long-term care insurance for those with fewer assets, state partnership qualified policies should be presented. Partnership qualified policies permit the client to retain assets equal to the policy benefits when qualifying for Medicaid.

5. Minimum Asset Requirement: Due to the fact that there are fewer insurance companies selling traditional Long Term Care Insurance today, it is extremely important to know one’s options. Generally, a prospective client should be educated on the options available as well as the differences between insurance company offerings.

NAOSA highly recommends that once all options are considered and a plan design "standard" is determined, clients should be presented with illustrations from multiple companies. In some cases, an agent may be what is known as a “captive agent”, a term used for an agent working for a single company. Although usually incentivized not to, many captive agents may still present multiple insurance carrier options. NAOSA recommends that the consumer ask for more than one option. If the agent refuses or cannot, NAOSA recommends a second opinion from another agent.

We welcome your input. If you are a professional and have any constructive comments or suggestions on the NAOSA Gold Standards, please send us an email to info@NAOSA.ORG

Members Pledge

To Always put a Client’s interest over any self interest.

To provide straight forward, non-biased advice & services on behalf of the Client.

To never engage in the industry specific business practices identified as harmful to the consumer by NAOSA experts and Advisory Board Members. (These practices are listed in a separate document and can also be found on the NAOSA website.)

Members Educate

By being clear and transparent in their pricing and eliminate any gray areas that may exist in various business practices, even if they are considered legal.

By always offering a product or service that best suits the Client’s needs.

By clearly explaining all options so that a client can make the best informed decision about their purchase.

By informing their Clients of all NAOSA Gold Standards so that they are prepared when working with other professionals in an unrelated field.

Members Advocate

By becoming a trusted advisor held to the highest standards possible.

By serving as a resource and voice for all consumers who have been exploited.

By cooperating and working with Government Agencies to protect the best interest of our Senior Population and all other Consumers.

testimonials

quote

What people say?