Like all insurance policies, Long-Term-Care insurance policies require a good deal of research before they are entered into. Often different insurance companies offer coverages that at first glance appear similar, but upon closer examination are very different.
A Wall Street Journal article titled, Insurer Casts Off Long-Term-Care Policies written by M.P. McQueen references seven ways to protect yourself before signing up for a long term care policy.
First, look into the stability of the premium payments. Long-term-care policy premiums are not like life insurance policy premiums which remain constant. Long-term-care policies can rise unexpectedly. It is often the case that large insurers which are financially stable and have high credit and financial strength ratings initially charge a higher premium but the premiums increase very little over the years.
Second, know how much the policy will cover in daily costs. Because the daily cost of nursing home expenses varies widely from state to state, it is important to know if the policy will cover the costs in your state.
Third, be aware that the length of coverage is limited. Coverage for a lifetime is difficult to obtain and very expensive. Policies covering two to four years are typical. It is unlikely that a nursing home stay will exceed four years.
Fourth, be aware that many policies require you to pay for the first three months of care before the policy takes over. If you want to shorten or eliminate paying for the first three months, the cost of the premium will increase.
Fifth, seek built-in inflation protection which increases at a rate approximating the increase in care costs. This rate should be well above the current rate of inflation.
Sixth, look into expense-incurred benefits. This is additional money paid directly to you or the care provider to reimburse for eligible costs up to a daily benefit maximum.
Finally, look into indemnity benefits. Although this coverage is more expensive, it is often worth the cost as it provides cash to you to cover costs which are not always eligible expenses.