How should I manage my long-term care insurance policy?

Before answering this question, it helps to know that in the past long-term care insurance was usually sold as a standalone policy. Today, coverage often comes bundled with life insurance coverage (or an annuity) and is referred to as a hybrid policy.

Review Your Policy After Major Life Events

Insurance professionals recommend that you review the life insurance portion of your hybrid policy whenever you experience a major life event. That said, reviewing the long-term care insurance portion of a hybrid policy after a major life event is likewise a good idea.

Some of the most common life events include:

  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced
  • Buying a house
  • Having or adopting a baby
  • Accepting a new job
  • Receiving a substantial raise or promotion
  • Taking out a mortgage or other loan
  • Refinancing your home
  • Paying off your mortgage
  • Buying a business
  • Selling a business
  • Receiving an inheritance
  • Having a loved one require long-term care
  • Becoming disabled
  • Becoming an empty nester
  • Experiencing a death in the family
  • Retiring

An often overlooked reason for scheduling an insurance review is experiencing a change in health. A turn for the worse is often a reason to increase your coverage or to examine additional coverage opportunities. (Just know that coverage may cost more if you’re facing a health challenge.) That said, rest assured that you’ll be able to continue the coverage you already have in place regardless of your health.

On the flip side, an improved health outlook from losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking and getting control over an issue like high blood pressure might help you get a better rate. The same applies if you recently quit a dangerous hobby like mountain climbing or left a risky job like being a roofer.

Reasons to Review Your Long-Term Care Insurance

There are two specific reasons why you’d want to review a standalone long-term care insurance policy (or the long-term care insurance portion of a hybrid policy). They include if:  

  • Your policy includes an inflation rate. If you bought a standalone long-term care insurance policy years ago, it may include a 5% compound inflation rate. Over time, that rate may have outpaced the cost of care. That would leave you with more coverage (and premium charges) than necessary. In this case, you would want to review your coverage to see if you need to reduce your benefits.
  • Your policy has a purchase option. A purchase option lets you periodically buy extra long-term care insurance coverage without having to apply for more coverage. If you purchased a policy with lower limits and you have the means to buy more coverage via a purchase option, you’ll want to review your long-term care insurance.

Consider an Annual Review

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to review any form of insurance at least once a year. An insurance review is a way to make sure that you have the right kind and level of coverage to protect yourself and potentially also your loved ones.

An insurance review is also the perfect time to learn about any new coverage options your insurer recently announced; to discuss any concerns you have about the rate you’re paying; and to take action before a policy expires.

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