- You can purchase long-term care insurance through an insurance specialist, employer or professional association, including trade and alumni associations.
- Depending on where you buy your policy, you can customize your plan or opt for simplicity, but typically, you can’t do both.
- Long-term care coverage might already be bundled into your life insurance or annuity.
Long-term care coverage may come bundled with your life insurance. If it doesn’t, then there are three main avenues through which you can buy long-term care insurance: an insurance specialist or provider, your employer or a professional organization. Each avenue comes with its own advantages and disadvantages; some of which will be more pertinent to your personal situation and needs.
It’s important to research all your options prior to purchasing a policy. For example, if you are already using long-term care or have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another progressive medical condition, then you might not qualify for some long-term care insurance plans.
It is important to understand your long-term care insurance options, especially if you can’t qualify for an individual policy. Make sure you look at your employee benefits, work and school associations, and even public options before deciding to self-fund or depend on your children.
Buying Through an Insurance Specialist
An insurance specialist typically works for a specific insurance carrier or company, a bank or financial planning company, or an insurance broker. They might also specialize in a particular type of insurance, such as health, life or long-term care.
Pros and Cons
- Carries extensive expertise
- Offers customized options
- Works within budget
- May be limited to selling one carrier’s products
- May require additional fees and costs
- May try to upsell for commission
A major advantage to buying from an insurance specialist is their expertise. An insurance specialist’s role is to inform customers how insurance plans work and the financial cushion they can provide. A specialist can help you find or customize a policy to tailor the benefits and coverage to your needs.
If your specialist is an insurance broker, they will search a range of options and present the best prices and quotes based on your budget. If your specialist works for a carrier, they may also be able to help you file claims.
On the other hand, an insurance specialist might be limited to selling only one carrier’s products, which might not have the price or flexibility you were looking for. Broker’s fees can add upfront costs, and if commissions are involved, your specialist may try to sell you more insurance than you need.
Buying Through Your Employer
An ever-growing number of employers in both the public and private sectors now offer long-term care insurance through a group plan as a voluntary benefit.
Pros & Cons
- Simple process
- Less qualifications required
- Less freedom to customize coverage
- Coverage amount may not suit your needs
Buying long-term care insurance through an employer can be much simpler since there are only a few pre-chosen plans to examine and offers a straightforward billing process. Since the plans are more general, they might ask fewer health- and gender-related questions, which could make it easier for you to qualify.
In return for the simplicity of purchase, employer plans offer much less flexibility and customization. You might end up with more (or less) coverage than you were hoping to acquire but will have no way to personalize your choices.
Buying Through an Association
Many associations offer group insurance plans. If you belong to a professional organization, your membership usually comes with access to benefits like business services and insurance coverage. Alumni associations and trade organizations also offer similar benefits to their members.
Pros & Cons
- Discounted prices
- Less qualifications
- Lacks flexibility in plan options
- Less freedom to customize coverage
Since professional and alumni associations have thousands of members, they can generally offer their members discounted prices on insurance plans and packages. Since the plans are general rather than tailored, application usually requires less health history.
However, insurance plans offered by associations are usually broad and non-flexible in nature. Because such plans must cover a broad segment of society, you will have less freedom to customize the coverage to what you want.
For example, consumers may have the option to combine long-term care insurance with their whole or universal life insurance policy. With this approach, you can either use your long-term care benefits while alive, or your provider will pay it out to your beneficiary after your death.
You also have the option to add a long-term care rider to your annuity contract. With a long-term care rider in place, you can be assured you’ll have enough money to help cover long-term care costs if you need it. If you don’t need the coverage, you can pass the benefit along to your beneficiaries.
Don’t hesitate to work with a trusted partner to find the long-term care insurance solution to fit your needs.