State Life offers a combination life/long term care policy with a rider that still has an option for an “Unlimited” period of extended care up to the monthly benefit you selected at policy issue.
That means, should you or your spouse go on claim you can receive care in your own home, assisted living, nursing home or memory care for as long as you need. The benefits will not run out.
The appeal of the policy is:
- Premiums are guaranteed never to increase
- Provides your estate a tax-free life insurance benefit if LTC is not needed
- Patented Joint coverage for two insured (one policy covers both spouses)
- Unlimited LTC rider is available
- Guaranteed 100% return of premium if you change your mind
This policy may be worthwhile for you to consider if you have liquid assets generally not needed for retirement income that can be easily re-positioned.
For example, you may have already set aside a preliminary liquid cushion of $250,000 of your savings should you or your spouse need long term care.
Let’s assume you are a 55 year old male and your spouse is 50. As an alternative to self-funding future long term care needs, you could choose to move $75,000 of the $250,000 in your savings into a “Joint” Combination Life/Long Term Care policy with an Unlimited LTC rider. (rider cost is $ 185 per month)
In doing so each spouse would receive:
- Unlimited long term care benefits ($8,945 each per month should you need care)
- $ 223,633 tax-free second to die life insurance death benefit to your beneficiaries should you not need care
- $ 75,000 return of premium if you change your mind
Alternatively, if you either don’t have a large sum of money available to move, or are using it to generate much needed retirement income, State Life has another option with an Annual Premium. It also has a guaranteed premium and an “Unlimited” Long Term Care rider available.
Consider choosing a Long Term Care Insurance Agent in the same way you choose any other professional: properly trained, experienced and someone who stays up to date on the latest strategies.
Long Term Care planning is a specialized field. There are different types of long term care policies, and premiums are driven by many different factors.
By utilizing the following tips, you will be better able to choose an Agent that will assist you in making the best choice for you and your family.
- The California Partnership for Long Term Care describes a “good long term care agent” as an agent who is a genuine listener, an educator and a problem solver. Their primary focus is to identify your concerns and help establish your goals and needs.
- You will want an agent that is knowledgeable about Medicare, Medigap, Medicare Advantage Plans and Medi-Cal. Understanding how Health Insurance and Medicare work will be important in your decision making because long term care policies pay for custodial care that is specifically excluded from a health care policy.
- Confirm that the agent has gone through the proper training to work with the California Partnership for Long Term Care. Even though you may not need or choose this type of policy, certification indicates a well informed serious agent.
- Ask the agent to provide a list of highly rated insurance companies they represent and have been appointed by. At a minimum you will want the A.M. Best rating for each company (A.M. Best is a U.S. based rating agency headquartered in New Jersey, which focuses on the insurance industry). It’s important to have a solid, established carrier since claims can be years away.
- It is helpful if the agent has an association with a large Long Term Care Brokerage as you may need some assistance in the future. It is important to have a strong advocate during the application or claims process.
- Determine that the agent is well versed in different types of planning strategies. This will include both the conventional type of policy and also the hybrid or linked policies that combine life insurance and long term care benefits.
- Ask if the agent will appeal your application in the event of a decline. Mistakes are made and sometimes a declined application can be reversed if an agent is willing to go the extra distance.
- Require a side by side comparison on a spreadsheet that will include different types of long term care planning strategies, corresponding benefits, premiums, as well as the pros and cons of each.
- Confirm the agent or the agent’s brokerage facilitates the claims process. Ask what can be expected if a claim is made because this is when you need support most!
- Arm yourself with as much information as possible prior to your meeting. An expert always enjoys working with a savvy well informed client!
In early March, Mutual of Omaha came back to California with two new Long Term Care products. The one I really like is the MutualCare Custom Solution. It, as the name suggests, is very customizable with some new rider options to the industry.
Policy Design Options:
- Policy limits: $50,000 – $500,000 at $25,000 increments
- Monthly Benefits: $1,500 – $10,000 at $500 increments
- Elimination Period: 0, 30, 90, 180 or 360 Calendar Days
This way of designing a plan gives a large range of coverage options, allowing it to be optimized for the client. In addition to the benefit options there are a number of Inflation Protection options. You can set up 1% – 5% compound inflation at .25% increments. By choosing any of the Inflation Protection options you are given the opportunity to increase the inflation protection each year.
Included Benefits in the policy:
- Cash Benefit: 40% of the monthly benefit available in cash (up to $2,400)
- Home Health Care – so you can stay at home as long as possible
- Facility Care – up to 100% of the monthly benefit
- Respite Care – to provide relief for unpaid caregivers (up to one month per calander year)
- Hospice Care
- International Benefit – up to the monthly maximum for 12 months
- Waiver of Premium – waives the premiums while on claim
- Waiver of Elimination Period for Home Health Care – 0 day elimination for home health care
- Shared Care – if you reach your maximum benefit you can use your partners (until your partner has one year of care left) If either partner dies, the surviving partner will receive the the deceased partners benefits without having to continue paying the deceased partners premium
- Joint Waiver of Premium – If one partner is on claim, both premiums are waived
- Survivorship Benefit – If one partner dies after both policies have been in force for 10 years the premium is waived for the surviving partner
Another rider that I really like is the Security Benefit rider. If your partner doesn’t have a LTC policy, the Security Benefit will pay an additional 60% of the monthly reimbursement that can be used to help pay for care or living expenses. This is a great option for those with a spouse that may be uninsurable due to health reasons.
This new policy by Mutual of Omaha is also priced very competitively, making it a great addition to the California Long Term Care Insurance options.
That depends. If you have considerable assets and income, utilize your ability to protect yourself and buy a robust policy. It’s a great value, and will give you peace of mind and protect your family even if you never have to use the policy.
However, because a bigger policy costs more this strategy only works for the comparatively wealthy. This has required an adjustment by long term care insurance specialists. We are now selling co-insurance, with the emphasis on covering the cost of home care and assisted living facility care. This is because less than 20% of the care scenarios take place in a nursing facility.
So what’s enough long term care protection for most? In my view, a policy would cover the average cost of eight hour home health care or 24 hour assisted living facility care in your area (often $ 120 to $ 170) for three years with a 3 % compound or 5 % simple inflation rider. In most cases, an initial pool of money in the $ 100,000 to $ 150,000 range will protect the vast majority.
The goal here is to spread some of the risk. There are other sources of income and you must be comfortable with the premium. Remember that the cost of insurance is very small…the cost of care is very large. The key is, buy something! If nothing is bought, no risk is spread. If nothing is bought, you have failed to protect yourself, your family and your income & assets.