Long-Term Care Insurance

Armed with the right vocabulary, you can make a smart choice.

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When you’re shopping around, consider doing business with someone who specializes in long-term care policies. Though your local insurance agent may offer policies, he or she may not be an expert in the area. And when you’re dealing with an agent, make sure you get to see a copy of the real policy you’re considering, not just a generic sample policy. An agent may remind you that you have a 30-day so-called "free look" period, during which time you can cancel the policy, but you don’t want to wait until after you’ve bought the policy to compare the benefits to other policies on the market. Do your legwork in advance.

Also, check out the insurance company’s financial status before you buy. If a company goes out of business before you need care, you’re out of luck. Companies such as A.M. Best, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s all offer insurance company ratings.

Schoenborn offers a special note to people who live, or plan to live, part-time in two different states when they retire. She says you should examine the definitions of terms in both states where you’ll be living to make sure you’ll be covered by your policy, equally, in both states. Because policies aren’t standard, it’s possible that your home state’s coverage is better or worse than that in your warm-weather second home.

Finally, if you’re married, consider buying policies for both spouses from the same company. You’ll probably get a discount, just as you do for buying homeowners and car insurance from the same carrier.

For More Information

These organizations can give you additional information on long-term care insurance.

National Council on the Aging

National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). For the program nearest you, call 800-677-1116.

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