Thinking about Buying Long-Term Care Insurance? Read this first.

confusion-005by Tobe Gerard, CLTC, MBA, MLS, LIA

There are many questions posed by prospective clients when they are first considering long-term care insurance (LTCi), but most begin with the disciplined questioning of the Socratic method: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

Who is buying? Couples and single women.

What are they buying? 50% of our clients buy traditional LTCi and 50% buy a hybrid policy that combines LTCi with life insurance. That is a huge shift from just five years ago when traditional LTCi made up 90% of our sales.
>Traditional LTCi Policies Current policies are less robust than years ago, typically they provide $4,500/month or $6,000/month, 3 or 4 year benefit period, 3% compound inflation. Couples almost always purchase the “shared” rider.
> Hybrid LTCi Policies Clients most often re-position $100,000 to fund a policy. The benefits range from $4,500 to over $6,000/month depending upon age, gender, and dollars contributed to fund the policy. The sweet spot appears to be policies that have a six year benefit period and 3% compound inflation.

When are they buying? Most people purchase LTCi in their fifties, but our clients range from 46 to 71.

Where are they buying? The states that have the most “insured lives” are CA, TX, NY, FL, IL, PA, OH, VA, NJ, WA, and MN.

Why are they buying? These are the top six reasons people purchase a LTCi policy.
#1 A desire to protect assets.
#2 A desire not to be a burden to family and other loved ones.
#3 A desire to have choices on where to receive care.
#4 A desire not to rely upon the government for their care.
#5 They have experienced using LTCi for a relative (parent, grandparent, spouse) and saw what a gift LTCi was to the family.
#6 They have experienced caring for a relative without LTCi and they saw how it drained the family’s resources financially and emotionally.

How are they buying? Many clients have been referred to us by their financial advisor, their attorney, or their accountant, although some people purchase policies through their employer; some buy through affinity groups such as college alumni associations or professional associations that offer members a discount; and others search online and buy a policy remotely from an insurance agent who sells by phone in multiple states.

Editor’s Note: For decades, the author has provided families with guidance about selecting long-term care insurance policies as well as how and when to trigger a claim. To help you become a more savvy consumer, we’ve asked Tobe to become an ongoing contributor to our blog.

Reprinted with permission from Tobe Gerard.

c 2016 Circle of Life Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.

Confused about Long-Term Care Insurance? Ask an Expert

by Jan Simpson and Tobe Gerard

Jan:  Since publishing Don’t Give Up on Me!, I have had dozens of conversations with adult children about their aging parents and the financial challenges of paying for elder care. The “sandwich” stage of life can quickly overwhelm families and deplete resources.  One way your parents and you can plan for the expenses associated with long-term care is to purchase long-term care insurance. As you know, I have no financial relationship with insurance brokers but I do have an interest in providing you with unbiased information from trustworthy experts. I’ve invited Tobe Gerard to be a guest writer and to share with us periodically her expertise about long-term care insurance.  Tobe has 30 years of experience in the insurance business and is highly regarded by her clients. Among her many commitments, she serves on the faculty of the National Alliance and educates insurance agents nationally. You may learn more about Tobe here.

I asked Tobe how she became such an advocate for long-term care insurance.

Tobe: I am a Baby Boomer and I’m living the life of so many Baby Boomers who are dealing with their aging parents. I believe that there is no other insurance protection available that can do more for families than adequate long-term care insurance. Why?

  • I have seen estates depleted. Very few people can fully self-insure the costs associated with an extended long-term care situation.
  • I have seen healthy spouses become so exhausted from taking care of their impaired spouses that they appear to be on death’s door themselves. One third of the “healthy” spouses actually die before the spouse for whom they have been the caregiver.
  • I have seen siblings argue mercilessly. Painful things can be said when one is exhausted physically and emotionally.

I’ve experience this personally and I’ve witnessed this professionally. That’s why I am passionate about educating people about the importance of long-term care insurance.

Jan: How would I know which long-term care insurance company is best for me?

Tobe: Here is what I tell my clients to consider.

1.  How long has the company been selling long-term care insurance? If the answer is less than 15 years, I’d want to be sure that they have other strong points in their favor. Longevity is important. The longer a company has been writing insurance long-term insurance policies, the more they’ve paid claims, have a sense of their lapse ratio, and have sound medical underwriting practices.

2. How important are the financial ratings of the company? Several rating services such as A.M. Best, Standard and Poors, Moody’s, Fitch, and Weiss, review insurance companies. I tend to use the Comdex which combines the ratings of all five services on a scale of 1 to 100. I try to work with companies that have a Comdex rating of 80 or above. You always want to use a company that has at least an “A” rating; an A+ or A++ is better. A “B+” or “B” may have been a good grade in high school, but it is not a good grade for an insurance company. Click here to see a list of insurance companies and their ratings.

3. How do prices compare among long-term insurance companies? If you get quotes from 4 or 5 companies, you may see some difference in premiums.  Avoid any company that charges half of what others are charging.  Many firms enter the long-term care insurance market with low pricing to “buy” business and then exit the market within a few years because their pricing wasn’t based upon sound principles.

4. Does the company have a reputation for aggressive rate increases? This is a difficult area to comment on because it seems that many of our tried-and-true long-term care insurance companies are filing for rate increases. I would suggest considering companies that have had reasonable rate increases rather than aggressive rate increases. Ask your agent what has been the rate increase history of the company or companies you are considering.

According to Tobe, the best time for adults to purchase long-term care insurance is between the ages of 55 and 64, when premiums are low and before a change in health may make one ineligible for insurance.

Do you have questions about long-term care insurance? Post them on our blog, Facebook or Twitter.

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