4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Long-Term Care Insurance
My wife, Gina, and I are in year five of owning and running a home care agency, and we’ve experienced firsthand the pain of families struggling to pay for it.
After Gina and I helped managed care for my mother, Emily, as she transitioned into an assisted living facility near our home, we knew we couldn’t afford NOT to have a LTC plan. There are so many options, riders, qualifications and all of this was completely overwhelming.
Ultimately, the entire process took us about eighteen months, but we did finally choose a long-term care insurance policy that was right for us. Here are the 4 questions we’d encourage you to consider as you begin the research.
What is long-term care insurance and what do you need to know?
An excellent resource to get started is a Shopper’s Guide to Long Term Care Insurance. This is a great resource from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that gives you all the basic information you need.
Do you need it and is it right for you?
After reading the guide, sit down with your spouse and discuss your feelings.
How much do you need?
This is a very tough question. A good financial planner would probably recommend looking at a two to three-year period of long-term care. If you plan to stay at home, personal care now costs an average of $25/hr. If you needed care 7 days a week for 8 hours a day over the course of 3 years, that’s $219,000. For one person. It’s a very realistic – and expensive – scenario.
What are your goals and what’s important to you?
Since we deliver services, we understand the costs of care and the various options and that helped us to hone in on our goals for long-term care:
- Avoid being a burden on our children and/or counting on support from others.
- Stay at home.
- Get a policy with no ceiling or cap. Many policies pay based on what you put in and once funds are gone, they are gone.
- We did not want a “use it or lose it” policy. If we didn’t use it, we wanted the full or remaining balance go to heirs.
- Have minimal or no elimination period.
- Find one with clear triggers to start care.
- Offer a variety of services.
The most important advice we can give is to find a trustworthy financial advisor. One of the biggest things we learned is planning and choosing long-term insurance is a commitment, and it should fit into your overall retirement plan. You’ll find that many financial planners and advisors are also experienced with this type of planning, or they have relationships with some great long-term care insurance agents.
Searching for the right long-term care insurance plan was a long process, but we feel we’ve found one that works well for us.
-Guest writer, Tim Murray, President and Co-Founder, Aware Senior Care.