Local Agent May Not Be Qualified for Long-Term Care Planning

Read Time: 7:11
Published: Nov 11th, 2015
Local Agent May Not Be Qualified for Long-Term Care Planning
Article Updated:March 26th, 2021

The issue of caregiving and long-term health care has become 'front and center' as American families understand the problems of aging and its impact on their families and finances. 

Because of longevity, today's retirement planning must include protecting income and assets (401k's, IRA's, etc.) from the tremendous costs of future long-term health care. These costs are generally not paid for by health insurance or Medicare. Without a plan, your family will either become your future caregiver, or they will spend your assets to pay for care services.

The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator can show you how expensive extended health care is where you live today and in the future.

For many American families, affordable Long-Term Care Insurance is the perfect solution. You can easily safeguard your assets and reduce the burdens and pressure that otherwise is placed on your loved ones. However, your financial advisor or local insurance agent is probably not the person qualified to help you shop for the best coverage at the best value.

Premiums Vary Over 100%.  Underwriting Criteria Differs

The problem is there are many differences between insurance products, and premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies for the same coverage. Coverage is custom-designed, and your health and family history can impact your rate and insurability. 

Most insurance agents and financial advisors lack the knowledge and experience to provide you with accurate quotes or coverage recommendations. 

Getting help with Long-Term Care insurance is not like purchasing a home or auto insurance. These policies are not only custom-designed but are more challenging to obtain. 

Several types of policies are available, including traditional, partnership, hybrid, and limited duration policies. Since most insurance agents and financial advisors don't usually have Long-Term Care Insurance experience, a specialist is better prepared to find you the best coverage at the best value based on your specific age, health, and financial situation.

Getting a Quote, By Itself, is Meaningless

Too often, a consumer will just get a quote or series of quotes. The insurance agent will ask a few if any, questions. They will not spend much explaining what the quote means. Some agents may just email quotes without asking any questions. Bottomline - the quotes you get are meaningless. 

When you discuss long-term care planning with a specialist, they will spend time asking you very detailed questions about your health, family history, your financial situation, and your overall family concerns. This way, they can give you accurate quotes and information and not just a guess. 

Where Do You Go to Get Accurate Information?

The question is where to go to get accurate information. While some people look to their local insurance agent or financial advisor, others go to the internet to obtain information. 

Most insurance agents and financial planners are not prepared to provide anyone with accurate information since they work very little with these products. 

"There are significant differences between Long-Term Care (LTC)Insurance policies, pricing, acceptable health conditions and benefits that few consumers are aware of." 

"Every year some 250,000 people shop for LTC insurance protection for the first time."

Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), 

Longevity Brings Higher Risk of Long-Term Care

The need for extended long-term health care is growing as medical science allows us to live longer, and people survive accidents and health events that they didn't survive just 20 years ago. 

Your health and body change as you get older. Many people start noticing these changes as they get into their 40s. Once you get in your 'fragile 50s', many people get diagnosed with health issues like hypertension, arthritis, and other ailments. 

The older you get, the more likely you may suffer from cognitive decline. The golden years might not be so golden. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that about half of us who reach the age of 65 will need long-term health care. Plus, some people require extended care before age 65.

Your assets are at risk, but long-term care is more than just about money - it is about family. Preparing your family and finances for future long-term care is a vital part of your retirement planning. It is too important not to seek a specialist who understands the problem, products, and options.

"Unlike car insurance or even most life insurance policies which are pretty easy to compare, Long-Term Care insurance policies can be quite distinctive. Your first decision is finding an expert who understands the differences and works on your behalf to recommend the best coverage for the least cost from a high-quality company."

Jesse Slome 

 Internet Information Can Be Outdated or Wrong

The internet can give you a tremendous amount of information, but the information's accuracy can be questionable. He says much of the information on the internet is out-of-date or even just incorrect.

Even a professional's knowledge may be lacking. Many financial advisors and insurance agents do not understand the underwriting standards, which vary from one company to another. Plus, premiums can vary over 100% between companies for the exact same coverage.

Policies often many valuable features and benefits, but their knowledge about these features and benefits can be minimal. For example, benefits like spouse/partner shared benefit options, inflation options, and the power of the federal/state partnership plans that provide dollar-for-dollar asset protection are essential to understand. 

It would be best to have an experienced and qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help guide you through this process. This specialist is probably not someone local. That's ok since most of the nation's top specialists help people nationwide - virtually and safely - so you don't need to visit anyone in their office. 

You can learn about your options, get professional recommendations, accurate quotes from all the major companies, and shop and learn from the comfort of your home. You sit on your computer and speak with a specialist on the phone. Everything can be done without you having to leave your home. 

If you apply for coverage, a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will properly prepare you for the process and take care of issues that often come up with underwriting. If you get rated or declined for coverage, a specialist will know how to appeal the decision or find alternative solutions for you to consider. A local agent or financial advisor will lack this expertise and experience. 

Finding a Long-Term Care Insurance Specialist?

The AALTCI suggests three questions when seeking to identify Long-Term Care insurance expertise:

  • How long has the individual been selling LTC insurance?

"A minimum of three years is suggested, though five or more is going to be better," Slome explains

  • How many policies have they sold?

"A Long-Term Care Insurance specialist will have helped at least 100 individuals get coverage, though many will have helped 500 plus," he adds.

Some of the nation's top specialists have helped 8000 or more individuals obtain coverage over their careers. It is not necessarily how many years a specialist has been working in this area - but how many people they have helped along the way.

  • How many insurance companies does the person represent?

Most important, according to Slome, is determining if the financial advisor or insurance agent is appointed with multiple insurance companies.

"Appointed is insurance jargon which means they can actually sell that company's policy." "Agents are only going to recommend and tell you about policies they can ultimately sell."

Jesse Slome

Few True Long-Term Care Insurance Specialists Exist

There are not many insurance agents or financial advisors with this type of experience. Generally, you will need to look beyond your neighborhood to discover if this coverage is suitable and then find the best coverage at the best value.

Just because they call themselves a specialist doesn't mean they are a specialist.

Most specialists will have the first-hand experience in the claims process. They will have seen how Long-Term Care Insurance can not only help the policyholder but how these plans can give your family the time to be family.

Long-Term Care specialists will also save you money. They will be able to shop all the top companies based on your age, health, and family history. They will make recommendations based on your specific situation, so you don't spend more money than you need to. 

You can find a trusted and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist by clicking here

Experts suggest that you start your process in your 40s or 50s when you still enjoy reasonably good health and the premiums are at their lowest.

About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

Editor's Note

Planning for the financial costs and burdens of aging is crucial for you and your family. Generally, you prepare before your retirement to take advantage of low premiums and good health discounts.

Your Closest Long-Term Care Specialist is Probably Not Local

Most likely, the most qualified specialist will not even be in your state, but neither is the insurance company, so it really doesn't matter. 

When you find a specialist, be sure they ask you very detailed questions about your health, family history, financial situation, and future (or current) retirement plans. 

If they don't spend a considerable amount of time discussing these areas, you should be suspicious. Experts say underwriting rules are very specific but differ from company to company. Plus, you might qualify for discounts with one company and not another.

Find a qualified, trusted specialist by clicking here.

LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator

Your research should include finding the current and future cost of long-term care services in the area you live – or plan on living in the future. Use the LTC NEWS cost of care calculator by clicking here.

Other research tools are available, including the Ultimate Long-Term Care Insurance Guide. Review the guide by clicking here.

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LTC News Contributor James Kelly
James Kelly

Contributor Since
August 21st, 2017

LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

About the Author

LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

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