Thursday, July 20, 2006

Long Term Care Insurance Shopping Tips

By Scott Lunt

It's hard to face the reality of needing long term care. But more and more people are realizing that if they do need it, they may lose their entire retirement assets just to pay for it. It's now considered part of a smart financial plan to have long term care insurance if you don't have enough assets to cover the costs and still maintain your standard of living. The insurance can seem expensive so keep these points in mind when shopping for quotes.

Your age, health and desired benefits are the biggest factors that affect how much you pay for long term care insurance.

The older you are, the greater the chance that you may need long term care. Thus insurers will charge more to insure a 65-year-old than a 55-year-old. A recent study* released by the American Association for Long-term Care Insurance showed that the difference in yearly premium between a 55-year-old in good health and a 65-year-old in good health -- for the same benefits -- averaged almost $700 more.

The benefit affects your premium. You can choose a per diem amount for most policies based on what you think you may need. For example a policy may pay $30, $100, or $300 per day. The higher the benefit, the more your premium will be. Also, you can choose different lengths of waiting period before your benefits kick in. The longer the waiting period, the lower your premium should be.

Rates can vary between companies, so the most important consideration when shopping for long term care insurance is to get comparison quotes. When you're comparing different company quotes take a look at the following:

1. How much does the policy cost per month and per year?

2. Is there an inflation adjustment feature? How much does that feature cost?

3. What services are covered? (Nursing home, at-home care, assisted living care, etc.)

4. What is the waiting period before benefits start?

5. How much does the policy pay per day for the services? How long does the benefit last per service? Is there a lifetime benefit maximum?

6. Are pre-existing conditions covered? What conditions are covered?

7. Is the policy guaranteed renewable?

8. Does the company have a financially strong rating from an independent rating agency?

Once you select a policy, take the time to read through it carefully. If you don't understand any part of the policy, ask questions.

*2006 National Long-term Care Insurance Price Index

Scott Lunt is a freelance writer with over 15 years experience writing insurance-related articles. You can compare long term care insurance quotes and find more tips on saving on car, home, life, health and long-term care insurance at
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