Friday, May 27, 2011 1:36:40 PM

Who should buy long-term care insurance? And what age should you buy it?

Whether you require long-term care depends on your level of disability. The chances of needing long-term care usually increase as you age, but long-term care may be needed at any age.

Here is what Consumer Reports uncovered about the ideal age for buying long-term care insurance:

40s: There's very little reason to buy a plan at this age. Although premiums are lower, you will spend more money over time. Plus, there's no guarantee that premiums won’t rise.

50s: Begin deciphering the fine print of various long-term care options to see whether a policy makes sense for you. Consider any health problems you have and how long your relatives tend to live. Also, evaluate the importance of leaving assets to heirs.

60s: For many people, this is the best time to sign up. According to Consumer Reports, the average age when most people sign up for long-term care insurance coverage is 61. If you wait much longer, you run into insurability and affordability issues. For example, 23 percent of policy applicants in their 60s don’t pass the required physical, and 45 percent of people in their 70s fail.

Having said all that, individuals must consider their finances, level of physical health and well-being, lifestyle, and family health and longevity history. All of these components need to be taken into consideration. Is your lifestyle one of health consciousness, or are you treading dangerously toward unhealthy habits? Only you can answer these questions honestly and make a realistic evaluation of your long-term care insurance needs now and in the future.

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Our Insurance Expert

Laura Adams is a personal finance expert and award-winning author who is Senior Insurance Analyst for InsuranceQuotes.com. She represents Bankrate Insurance’s web properties in the media and works as an advocate to make sure consumers protect their financial futures by having the right kinds of insurance.

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