Friday, March 18, 2011 12:15:43 PM

Why should I buy long-term care insurance? What are the benefits?

Long-term care insurance helps protect you, your family and your property from the potential of catastrophic medical costs. You have worked long and hard for your assets and independent lifestyle. Long-term care insurance allows you to have peace of mind, knowing you can relieve the potential burden of your care from your loved ones, and can choose the care that will best suit your needs.

Before getting long-term care insurance, it is best to ask:

• Am I going to need long-term care insurance?

• What are the risks involved to me and my family if I don’t obtain a policy?

• Am I at risk of needing assistance with daily activities at some point in the future?

• Is it possible that I'll need to go into an institutional setting, such as a rehabilitation, assisted living or nursing facility?

• Can I afford the insurance? Can I afford not to have the insurance?

Only by investigating the various insurance providers and comparing the available policies would you be able to answer these questions.

Long-term care insurance pays for long-term care services. Policies vary as to what they offer and what they cover. They require that all applicants qualify for coverage before a policy is issued. Most companies have underwriting guidelines and could reject your application. There is variance among long-term care insurance companies, so if one rejects you, you may fall under the guidelines of another company.

Also, it's wise to investigate getting a policy early in life. The younger and healthier you are, the lower the premiums.

During your investigation, keep in mind that you want the right coverage from the right company. Look for companies that have been around for a long time, are responsible with their pricing and have a track record of stability. The company should be able to answer all of your questions completely and demonstrate a commitment to you and your family.

Always ask hard questions such as:

• What is covered in the policy?

• Will the premiums rise?

• Can I get coverage that accounts for cost-of-living increases?

• Will I be paying out of pocket first, then receiving reimbursements from the company? Or does company pay the bills directly?

• What will trigger my need to use long-term care insurance, and what will the waiting period be for the policy benefits take effect?

A good long-term care insurance company and its agents will work with you to make sure the policy you're considering will fit your needs and your family’s needs and will fall within your budget.

There's always the hope that you'll never need a long-term care insurance policy, but having a policy gives you the peace of mind that in the event of a catastrophe, you, your family and your property are protected.

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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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