Learn which questions to ask, what to policies to look for, and how to keep costs low when shopping for long-term care insurance.
Long-term care insurance can be costly. Thankfully, there are ways to significantly save when purchasing new long-term care insurance coverage, and, in fact some of the cost-cutting techniques can actually yield greater benefit coverage.
Right-size inflation growth option
You want the policy benefits you purchase today to increase yearly to keep pace with rising costs for care and care services. Long-term care insurance coverage that grows at 5 percent compounded annually will cost 51 percent more each year than identical starting coverage that only increases by 2 percent annually.
TIP: Ask your agent to show you cost comparisons for coverage that grows by 2-5 percent annually.
Shared care option for couples
Several leading insurers are now offering an innovative option for couples called shared care. Simply stated, shared care enables each spouse to access the benefit pool of the other spouse. So, as a result, both spouses can consider a smaller initial pool of benefits knowing they can ultimately access the combined pool, with greater potential benefits and yearly savings amounting to 5-15 percent.
TIP: Shared care options vary by company and even by state, so ask your agent for a clear explanation of how this option works.
Not all agents are equal
To the layman, all insurance agents might seem equal. But by definition, insurance “agents” can typically only sell policies from one company, whereas insurance “brokers” can generally represent multiple insurers — an important distinction. The 2019 Long-Term Care Insurance Price Index comparison of leading insurers found that virtually identical policies could vary by as much as 100 percent between different agents and brokers.
TIP: Ask your insurance professional how many insurance companies he or she is appointed with. While all professionals should have your best interest in mind, if they can’t sell a particular company’s policy (even if it’s the best one for you), it’s unlikely they will recommend it.
Shop 60 days before your next birthday
The cost for long-term care insurance coverage is determined by your age when you apply for coverage. The best time to start comparison-shopping is roughly 60 days before your next birthday. With that timeline, you’ll lock in the lower premium — a potential 8 percent in yearly savings — and give the agent enough time to get underwriting approval should you or your spouse have any current health issues.