Long-term care insurance dos and don’ts seniors should know

By shopping and comparing long-term care insurance providers seniors can boost their chances of securing a valuable and cost-effective plan.

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As you age, your financial considerations and needs will evolve. This can take many forms, and seniors, in particular, will need to be flexible in their approach. With many dependent on retirement savings and Social Security, they’ll need to carefully consider the pros and cons of each financial product to make sure it can truly be beneficial.

Fortunately, there is an effective way that seniors can reduce costs while still maintaining independence: long-term care insurance. This unique form of insurance can help pay for a wide array of care, from nursing homes and assisted living facilities to in-home caretaking

Like all insurance types, however, seniors should begin by researching their options to find the best policy for their unique situation. It also helps to know some general dos and don’ts when discussing this insurance, a few of which we will discuss below.

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Long-term care insurance dos and don’ts seniors should know

Here are a few key dos and don’ts seniors and older adults should know when looking into long-term care insurance coverage.

Do: Shop around for providers

Insurance prices will vary from provider to provider, so don’t sign up with the first one you get a quote from. Instead, shop around and compare multiple companies to improve your chances of finding one with comprehensive coverage and minimal costs. 

Just make sure to provide the same information to each provider to get an accurate, apples-to-apples comparison. So, for example, don’t ask for a quote for you and your spouse from one provider and just a quote for a single policyholder from another.

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Don’t: Assume coverage will be too expensive

Finances can be tight for everyone, especially seniors with limited income. And you should be judicious about how you spend that income but don’t just assume long-term care coverage will be too expensive, either. You may be surprised at how reasonable a plan is. 

Depending on your health, location and other factors, you may be able to secure a plan for less than $100 a month. The longer you wait, however, the more likely you are to pay more in premiums. So avoid delays.

Do: Investigate your options

There’s not just one form of long-term care insurance. There’s traditional long-term care insurance but there are hybrid forms, too, which can combine your existing life insurance plan with a long-term care one. Or, you can explore universal life insurance with a long-term care rider tacked on. Only you will be able to determine which type is the most advantageous — and you can only do so by first investigating all of your options. 

Don’t: Get it confused with our insurance types

As noted, there are different kinds of long-term care insurance to understand. But it’s also crucial to not get it confused with other, popular insurance types. 

For example, long-term care insurance won’t provide the same benefits life insurance will, nor will it boost your health insurance protections like a Medicare supplemental insurance plan can. While those latter two types of insurance are also helpful to have, they serve different functions than a long-term care insurance policy does so you should know that in advance.

Do: Purchase a policy with your spouse

There are a few major advantages to purchasing a policy with your spouse. You may be able to get a discount when purchasing a policy together versus on your own. But you may be able to inherit your spouse’s remaining policy after they have died, too, giving you an added layer of financial protection when needed most. Speak to your provider to learn more about buying long-term care insurance as a couple. 

Don’t: Wait too long to purchase a policy

Long-term care insurance, like other insurance types, tends to get more expensive the later you wait to apply. So don’t wait too long to purchase a policy. There’s even a compelling case to be made for purchasing it in your 40s or 50s. Just don’t delay much longer as prices are only likely to increase and coverage options may become more limited.

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The bottom line

Long-term care insurance can provide valuable financial protections for years, if not decades. For seniors to get the most out of a plan, however, they should strongly consider shopping around for providers, investigating the different types of policies for sale and buy one, where applicable, with their spouse. On the other hand, they shouldn’t assume coverage will be too pricey and they should be sure not to get it confused with other similar, but different, insurance types. Finally, they should avoid waiting too long to secure a policy, as prices will likely only rise. By understanding these important dos and don’ts, seniors can boost their chances of buying cost-effective and valuable long-term care insurance now.

This post was originally published on CBS News

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