After years of advising clients on the benefits and costs of long term care insurance my wife and I decided we should purchase insurance for ourselves. Our decision recognized that statistically at least one of us would need assistance with daily living tasks as we aged. We also fell in the middle income group without enough assets to self-insure the cost of a nursing care, nor could we easily qualify for Medical Assistance. Finally, we wanted to have the option of choosing the level of care we required and not be forced into a nursing home because that cost was covered by Medical Assistance.
The first step in the process was to choose an agent we could trust. Fortunately, I had been in contact with many of the agents in the area. We needed someone who could relate to both of us. The agent also needed to represent a company that was committed to long term insurance and financially solid. Once we had the first meeting I knew why a trusted agent is needed. Did we want single or joint policies, how much coverage, length of elimination period, a tax qualified or non-tax qualified plan, a partnership policy, inflation protection, and waiver of premium. We needed a knowledgeable agent to help us decide on the right policy for us.
After deciding on the appropriate coverage the process was not over. We had to go through the insurance company’s underwriting process. We were asked questions about our health and our doctors were contacted. The interview was conducted by phone with a follow-up test at my home.
Finally, the insurance company had enough information to underwrite the coverage. Our policies were issued. Our agent made sure that the premiums were setup to be automatically deducted from our checking account. This may seem like a simple step, but I hear the concerns of my clients who worry that they might miss a notice and fail to make a payment. They do not want to make payments for twenty years and find the insurance cancelled when the time comes to use it. For now we are quite happy to make insurance payments and not use the coverage. Waiting too long to apply for coverage is a real risk as to the cost of insurance and to qualify for coverage. If you want further information on long term care, please download this booklet by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.