Monday, August 29, 2011

Do all long-term care insurance policies cost the same?

Definitely not and that's one reason why it pays to speak with a knowledgeable long-term care insurance professional. For example, an American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance member ran price quotes for a "generous" plan of protection assuming equal conditions for a 55 year old spouse. A policy from Genworth or John Hancock would cost about $1,400. The same coverage from New York Life would run $1,945 and from Northwestern Mutual $2,400. These are all great companies and rates vary for a variety of reasons. But, as you can see, it clearly pays to check around. The savings can be substantial.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm 57 and married, how much does long-term care insurance cost?

What you pay is determined by your age, your health and how much protection you select when you apply. But, you want a bottom line. We do a Price Index study every year and someone age 55 who qualifies for preferred health and spousal discounts may pay $$709-per-year if they are married for what I'd call a base plan of protection today. That's about $115,000 in current benefits. With inflation protection coverage, that will grow to over $305,000 in 20 years. That's taking advantage of spousal and preferred health discounts.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I've read about rate increases. Should I be concerned?

It's hard to give a complex answer in just a few words, but let me try. The policies you are reading about in some news stories typically were issued 10 or 15 years ago when LTC insurance was still relatively new and conditions and policy pricing was very different. Just one example of what's changed. Interest rates paid on investments used to be 10% in 1985 and about 7% in 1995. Long-term care insurance is very interest rate sensitive. So, declining interest rates are great when you are looking to refinance your mortgage but lousy for an LTC insurer with older policies. But that was then; and this is now. Policies issued today in most states are governed by new regulations issued by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and adapted by most states. These regulations mandate that policies are priced fairly and accurately based on everything that's been learned. So, while no one can guarantee the future … nope not even me … there are many more safeguards in place today to protect you. And, there's a cumulative experience that has been gained along the way.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Make me smarter! Are there secrets worth sharing before I meet with an agent?

Ah, the Internet … making us all smarter. Each insurance carrier has one or more "sweet spots" generally based on which ages and health conditions they believe are most desirable based on their experience or future expectations. Some offer advantageous discounts for couples buying together. Others will offer a discount even when only one buys. Fortunately, most knowledgeable long-term care insurance professionals have access to policies from multiple insurers and can show you an apples-to-apples comparison without you having to be a NASA scientist (with all respect to those NASA scientists and engineers reading this!). The savings to you could be significant.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What age is too young for long-term care planning?

The American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance surveyed LTC insurers at the end of 2007 and the youngest policyholders receiving benefit payments are ages 23 and 25.

Yesterday's image of long term care is something that people need when they are old … and old is subjective. It is true that most people will need long-term care as a result of getting older. But, younger people have accidents -- skiing, riding motorcycles all come to mind. Surgery will fix that busted knee -- but you'll need long-term care for months of recovery and your health insurance doesn't cover that. And, younger people get illnesses in their 40s and 50s like MS and Parkinson's that can require the need for years of care. Just something to think about.