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When Is The Best Time To Apply For Long-Term Care Insurance?

When is the best time to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance? Can you buy insurance at a certain time to save money? In this article, we’ll discuss factors that affect the best time to apply for coverage.

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Long-Term Care Insurance is essential for our future health, well-being, and peace of mind. Many of us will need care at some point, but when is the best time to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance?

Applying for Long-Term Care Insurance can be a confusing process, especially if you don’t know when or where to start. LTC News staff consults with the top experts in the industry. These professionals have helped customers navigate Long-Term Care Insurance for decades.

In this article, we’ll discuss the best time to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance. Various factors like age, health, and financial stability affect the best time to apply for LTC Insurance for each individual. 

When Is The Best Time To Apply For Long-Term Care Insurance?

The best time to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance depends on your situation. Each individual has a time that works best for them. An age or milestone that may work great for someone else may not be the best time for you.

The best time is before your health declines. But no one knows when their health will catch up with them. This is why it’s important to get coverage proactively.

At What Age Should You Apply For Long-Term Care Insurance?

Most Long-Term Care Insurance buyers apply for Long-Term Care Insurance in their 50s. Many people are in a stable financial position and preparing for retirement during that time. Most importantly, most people still have relatively good health during this time. 

It’s also important to note that some states are implementing a tax on individuals who do not own Long-Term Care Insurance policies. There’s already a tax that affects 100% of your income in the state of Washington. If you live in a state with an LTCI tax, it could influence the age you buy insurance. 

This section will cover how age impacts the best time to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance. We’ll also discuss when applying for coverage at different ages might make more sense.

Applying For Long-Term Care Insurance Before Your 50s

Long-Term Care Insurance premium rates depend on many factors – including your age. The younger you apply for Long-Term Care Insurance, the lower your rate will be. 

Most people wait until their 50s for financial reasons. But what if you’re ready for coverage sooner?

In some cases, purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance before your 50s can make sense. For instance, family health history can influence when you should apply for coverage. 

Let’s say, for example, you know that you’re predisposed to certain conditions. In that case, getting a policy as soon as possible may make sense. More on family history later on.

Many people who get coverage early are in their 40s. In your 40s, you’ll often have a better chance of qualifying for preferred rates. Plus, when you apply early, you lock in low rates and ensure access to coverage before significant health conditions arise. 

Occasionally, individuals may opt to purchase a policy before their 40s. The youngest age you can apply for Long-Term Care Insurance is 21. Still, some companies will not consider applications before age 40. It doesn’t always make sense for many people to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance that young. 

Applying for coverage before your 50s means you’ll have a better chance of getting a lower rate. In fact, individuals who apply younger will often pay less over their lifetimes than those who wait. 

Applying For Long-Term Care Insurance After Your 50s

Many people assume that getting coverage later may help them save money. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, especially if you purchase after your 50s. 

In your 60s, you may run into two problems: higher premiums and difficulties getting coverage due to pre-existing health problems. Each year you age, your potential Long-Term Care Insurance premium price increases. 

Most people who apply for coverage in their 60s pay more than those who purchase younger. Those older than 70 may also have trouble finding coverage because of their age. 

From an insurance company’s perspective, the older you are, the more likely you will need care sooner rather than later. Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, so high-risk people would not be eligible for coverage.

You also have a higher risk of serious health complications as you age. Even common conditions, such as high blood pressure, can affect your LTC Insurance rates. These rates also depend on the stability of your condition. If you’re taking medications and the problem is under control, it may not affect your rates as much. 

Unfortunately, medications don’t keep every condition stable. This is why it’s important to apply for insurance before significant health issues develop. 

Qualifying For Long-Term Care Insurance

The younger you are, the better your chances of qualifying for a policy and locking in the lowest rates. Once you have a policy, companies can’t cancel it based on your changing age or health. 

Many Long-Term Care Insurance companies have cut-off ages. These are ages when companies stop issuing new Long-Term Care Insurance policies. 

Several companies stop issuing new policies at ages 73 and 75. A few companies consider applicants above these ages but generally issue few new policies at that age. Few people get approved for coverage at those ages.

The table below represents the percentage of declined applications at certain ages. This table can help visualize the connection between age and one’s ability to qualify for a new policy. 

Percentage of Applicants Declined For Long-Term Care Insurance Coverage in 2021, Listed by Age Range

Age Range

Percentage of Applicants Who Did Not Qualify for Coverage

40 - 49

12.4%

50 - 59

20.4%

60 - 64

30.4%

65 - 69

38.2%

70 - 74

47.2%

(The information in the table above comes from the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance).

Birthdays & Long-Term Care Insurance

The time of year generally doesn’t impact the best time to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance—unless your birthday is coming up. 

It’s crucial to purchase care before your next birthday, especially if you’re applying for coverage in your 60s or older. Your potential premium rates will raise each year you wait to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance. However, once you have a policy, your premium is intended to remain level. 

Some companies will “save age” for 30 days following your birthday. This means you can still get coverage for your previous age up to 30 days after your birthday. Others will use the closest age. Either way, it makes more sense to get a policy before your birthday rather than after. 

The Importance Of Good Health

Many of us believe we live relatively healthy lives. It’s easy to believe that an accident or health problem will never happen to you.

As a result, many people don’t consider Long-Term Care Insurance until they need care or have significant health issues. However, once you need care, you cannot start a new Long-Term Care Insurance policy. The only way you can is if you’ve completely recovered and met stability requirements. 

How Health Affects Qualification For Long-Term Care Insurance 

As we mentioned earlier, Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten. This means insurance companies can deny coverage or charge higher premiums to individuals with certain pre-existing health issues. Major health issues can make individuals uninsurable. 

As a rule of thumb, if you need care or are currently receiving care, you will not be able to start a new Long-Term Care Insurance policy. Check out our FAQ article on Long-Term Care Insurance underwriting to learn more about how to qualify for a new policy. 

Luckily, these underwriting rules don’t apply to existing policies. In fact, existing policies follow opposite rules. It’s illegal for insurance companies to raise premiums or cancel policies based on claims or health conditions after you’ve been approved for the policy.

Personal Health History

Your personal health history impacts your premium prices and your ability to qualify for Long-Term Care Insurance. Purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance in good health helps ensure you get the coverage you need with the lowest rates. 

Personal health history can include many things:

  • Past or current illnesses/diseases

  • Disorders

  • Surgeries

  • Medications

  • Mental health

  • Lifestyle choices

Several conditions and medications may disqualify individuals from a policy. At the very least, these complications can make Long-Term Care Insurance more expensive. 

Each insurer has different guidelines. So uninsurable conditions may vary depending on the company.

Individuals with health complications may also want to meet with a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist. Specialists can help you find the best prices and coverage available.

RELATED: Work with a Long-Term Care Insurance Specialist

Family Health History

Family health history can also impact your ability to qualify for Long-Term Care Insurance. Although companies generally only focus on closely related family members. This usually includes blood-related parents or siblings. 

If you have a family history of genetic diseases or conditions, it may make sense to purchase a Long-Term Care Insurance policy as soon as financially possible. 

For example, a family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia can prevent you from starting a new policy. If your family history doesn’t prevent you from qualifying, it may still prevent you from getting lower rates. 

In some cases, applying earlier can help safeguard against future issues with family members and your health. No one wants to think about their loved ones aging or getting sick. But your family’s health affects the cost of your coverage.

Financial Readiness

It’s best to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance when you’re financially stable. Long-Term Care Insurance is generally affordable for many Americans, but it’s still a monthly or annual expense. 

People in unstable financial positions may not want or be able to add extra expenses to their budgets. Different life stages can affect your financial readiness. In fact, life stages are the most common reason for financial instability. 

Many people find they’re most financially ready to apply for LTC Insurance in their 50s. By this time in life, many people have assets, savings, and, most importantly, disposable income. This allows for financial freedom. 

On the other hand, many young people lack these resources—which can affect their economic mobility. Individuals in earlier stages of life may be busy building careers and families, as well as buying homes. 

Many people in their 50s have reached a stable place in these areas of life. This allows them to focus on retirement planning and saving.

When Should You Apply For Long-Term Care Insurance?

The best time to apply for a policy is before your health declines and when you’re in a stable financial position. That age can look different for everyone, but most people find they’re ready in their 50s. 

It’s important to apply before your health declines. After health complications occur, you may find yourself uninsurable or paying higher premiums. 

Personal and family health history can also affect the best time for you to get coverage. If there’s a history of medical problems, applying for Long-Term Care Insurance coverage may make sense before your 50s. 

The younger you are when you get a policy, the lower the premium will typically be. If you wait until your 60s or 70s to purchase coverage, you may find yourself either uninsurable or paying a much higher premium. 

It’s important to make sure you’re financially stable before purchasing a policy. Many people find the best time to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance is after they’ve passed milestones like sending their kids to college or paying off their houses. Many people also choose to get insurance plans as they prepare to retire and while they still have a stable income source.

The best time to apply for Long-Term Care Insurance varies from person to person. As you continue to explore, here’s an additional resource that may be able to help:

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