It's important to prepare your finances and family for the future costs of aging. For many American families, Long-Term Care Insurance can help reduce these stresses by providing access to quality care. But a majority of us don't know how, where, or when to start planning for long-term care.
For many of us, the next step is to seek professional advice. In this case, there are a few types of professionals who can help you find coverage that works for you:
Long-Term Care Insurance specialists
We created this article to help you determine which type of professional is the best fit for you. We’ll weigh the pros and cons of Long-Term Care Insurance specialists and financial advisors. On top of that, we'll also provide starter questions that you can ask your professional as you continue through the process.
The Differences Between Long-Term Care Insurance Specialists & Financial Advisors
Many of you may ask, what's the difference between Long-Term Care Insurance specialists and financial advisors?
Long-Term Care Insurance specialists are trained in Long-Term Care Insurance products, underwriting, and policy design. Long-Term Care Insurance specialists use their specialized knowledge to help their customers find and customize long-term care policies that best meet their needs.
On the other hand, financial advisors are trained in financial products, asset management, and retirement planning. Financial advisors use their specialized skills to help their clients meet short-term and long-term financial goals.
We’ll break down the pros and cons for each type of professional.
Pros & Cons of Long-Term Care Insurance Specialists
Long-Term Care Insurance specialists are trained to help their clients find a Long-Term Care Insurance policy that meets their needs.
LTC Insurance specialists have the most accurate information of anyone in their field. They go through extensive and continuous educational training to obtain and maintain their LTC Insurance licenses and certifications.
So what are the potential pros and cons of Long-Term Care Insurance specialists?
Highly trained, educated, and certified in LTC Insurance
Can use their policy design and underwriting knowledge to find the best LTC Insurance policy available
Can create accurate insurance quotes on the spot using specialized software
Generally work with multiple top insurance companies
First-hand experience with filing Long-Term Care Insurance claims
Offer online appointments
Pros & Cons of Financial Advisors
Many people have worked with their financial advisors for years to meet their financial and retirement goals. This established relationship can help clients initiate long-term care planning with ease and confidence.
But as competent as financial advisors are in financial planning, they may not have the extensive education or experience required to sell Long-Term Care Insurance. They often lack a deep understanding of Long-Term Care Insurance policy design and underwriting.
Here are the potential pros and cons of financial advisors.
Skilled in financial planning and asset management
Can help you prepare for retirement
Knowledge of your entire financial situation
Availability for in-person and online meetings
Reliance on external sources for quotes and underwriting
Limited knowledge of care costs and the impact of long-term care on families
May lack training or certification in Long-Term Care Insurance including: underwriting, policy design, add-ons & riders, filing claims, partnership programs
Other Types of Professionals
You may run into other insurance professionals besides financial advisors and Long-Term Care Insurance specialists. These other insurance professionals each have their advantages and disadvantages, but they may not be the best choices for finding a Long-Term Care Insurance policy.
You may come across insurance generalists. These generalist agents help their clients with everything from car insurance to health insurance.
There are pros and cons to using insurance generalists for Long-Term Care Insurance. These agents know a little bit about each type of insurance, but they don’t specialize in any particular industry.
Most general insurance agents aren’t knowledgeable enough about Long-Term Care Insurance to help their clients choose the best policy. They often recommend the wrong policy or have a bias towards a particular policy type, such as hybrids. They’re also prone to giving misleading or uninformed LTC Insurance advice.
Captive Insurance Agents
You may also run into captive agents. These agents only work for one company and typically only sell products from that company.
Occasionally these agents will offer products from other companies, but they’re financially incentivized not to do so. A great way to tell if you’re speaking to a captive agent is if their business card or website has a logo from an insurance company.
Is Your Chosen Professional Qualified to Help with Long-Term Care Insurance?
After you decide whether a financial advisor or a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist best fits your needs, you’ll need to determine if your chosen professional is qualified to provide the help you need.
Here are a few things to consider as you search for a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance professional:
Proper licensing and education
Client base and years of experience
Experience with claims
What companies do they represent?
Are they able to get accurate quotes from the top companies?
Are they able to ask detailed questions to design a personalized policy?
We’ll break down each of these questions and considerations in the sections below.
Licensing & Continuing Education
When you first meet with your chosen professional, it’s important to confirm that they have a Long-Term Care Insurance license. We also recommend asking if they’re continuing their long-term care education each year, as required by law.
Long-Term Care Insurance professionals should easily provide you with this information upon request. LTC Insurance certifications and training requirements can vary by state. It’s important to know that your professional is properly certified.
Please note: Each state has different licensing requirements. For detailed information about LTC Insurance licensing for your state, you can research your state’s requirements or visit your state’s LTC Insurance department’s website.
Most states offer partnership policies, which provide additional asset protection for traditional Long-Term Care Insurance policies.
These partnership programs are collaborations between private insurance companies and state Medicaid programs. The goal of this program is to make Long-Term Care Insurance safer for buyers.
Long-Term Care Insurance professionals must be partnership certified by law to sell partnership policies. Not everyone will be able to qualify for a partnership policy; however, they’re a great option for many policyholders.
If your LTC Insurance professional isn’t partnership certified, they may not have the experience or resources to find the best policy for you and your needs. This is why it’s so important to verify that your chosen professional is partnership certified.
Size of Client Base & Years of Experience
Long-Term Care Insurance professionals should have a sizable client base and several years of experience. This helps ensure that your professional can adequately assist you in finding coverage and filing claims.
According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, you should ask your chosen professional:
Experience with Claims
Claims are one of the most important parts of Long-Term Care Insurance. Claims are the process of accessing your LTC Insurance benefits. Claims let insurance companies know when they need to start covering policyholder’s care, and to the extent, they need to do so.
At some point, many policyholders or their families will need to file a claim with their insurance. Professionals need to understand the process so they can better educate the policyholder and their families.
You should ask your chosen professional:
How many clients have you helped with claims?
Which insurance companies do you have experience filing claims with?
What Companies Do They Represent?
Long-Term Care Insurance professionals should represent most of the top LTC Insurance companies. It’s important to double-check that they fully represent the companies, and offer all or multiple policy options, not just one or two.
Long-Term Care Insurance professionals should offer all available long-term care solutions, traditional products, hybrids, and short-term care plans from multiple insurance companies.
Each insurance company has different underwriting processes and criteria. Professionals who work with and represent each top company are required to have a deep understanding of these guidelines.
Some agents and advisors lack a complete understanding of underwriting and rules. Underwriting rules can vary dramatically between insurance companies. An insurance professional who only works with one or two companies may not be able to make the best recommendations since they lack appropriate information.
Quotes Generated with Specialized Insurance Software
A big part of shopping for Long-Term Care Insurance is getting quotes on policy premiums and coverage. Long-Term Care Insurance professionals should have access to specialized insurance software that allows them to generate quotes. However, providing an accurate quote can be a challenge for professionals who aren’t as experienced with Long-Term Care Insurance, underwriting, and policy design.
Long-Term Care Insurance professionals must generate quotes by designing a policy. A policy design is the amount of available benefits and options. Professionals must use your date of birth, state of residence, and proper underwriting class to create an accurate quote.
Qualified professionals like Long-Term Care Insurance specialists will ask the proper questions to generate accurate quotes. They may also ask about your concerns, retirement plans, financial questions, and whether you might relocate in the future. Many specialists will also develop quotes from top companies in real-time during your meeting.
Asking Detailed Questions
As mentioned above, all qualified Long-Term Care Insurance professionals will ask you detailed questions to help find a policy that best fits your needs. These questions should range from health, family history, finances, and personal goals and concerns.
Financial questions play a much larger role in the interview process than people may expect. Long-Term Care Insurance is, in part, an asset protection product.
This means professionals will need to know your financial situation to design an appropriate plan for your situation. In addition, financial information plays a vital role in dollar-for-dollar asset protection offered through partnership programs.
Each state also requires, by law, companies and insurance professionals to make a reasonable effort to determine if Long-Term Care Insurance is suitable for their clients’ specific situations.
Unqualified professionals may generally only ask the most basic financial and health questions. The questioning process with unqualified professionals will be quick and generalized, and in some cases non-existent.
Real LTC Insurance professionals will often hold longer, more detailed meetings. They will also ask more specific questions including but not limited to:
Specific family health history, including siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents
Prescription medication history
Lifestyle choices such as tobacco, drug, and alcohol use
Surgical and medical procedural history
Pending surgeries or procedures
Financial information and situation
Long-term health care goals
Questions to Ask Your Long-Term Care Professional
At this point, you may have an idea of which type of professional you’d like to meet with and how to tell if they’re qualified. Your Long-Term Care Insurance professional should be able to guide you through the process. But we recommend preparing questions and discussion topics so you can receive the best information and most accurate policy available.
In this section, we’ll give you a few topics to bring up when you meet with your chosen professional.
As we’ve already discussed, partnership programs can be great options for asset protection. Most states offer partnership programs. Other asset protection options are usually available in states that don't offer partnership programs.
Long-Term Care Insurance specialists can find these options for you. They will be able to find a policy that protects your income and assets from future long-term health care expenses.
Tax deductions and incentives may be available for qualified policies. Depending on your age, policy, and situation these tax incentives can save you thousands each year.
For more information, check out this year’s tax benefits guide and speak to your insurance professional about opportunities specific to your situation.
Health Savings Accounts
Health savings accounts (HSA) are personal savings accounts used exclusively for medical and health-related expenses. The money in these accounts is completely tax-free, and completely owned and controlled by you, the account holder.
Talk to your insurance professional about using the pre-tax money in your HSA. This pre-tax money can help pay for your Long-Term Care Insurance premium.
Asset-Based or Hybrid Policies
Hybrid policies, also known as asset-based policies, are life insurance policies or annuities with an insurance rider for long-term care. They can be more expensive than traditional policies, but they offer perks that can address additional needs or concerns.
If you’re interested in asset-based or hybrid policies, an LTC Insurance specialist may be the right professional for you. With their training in underwriting, LTC Insurance specialists are qualified to find a hybrid policy that both meets federal guidelines and fits your needs.
Meeting with Your Chosen Long-Term Care Insurance Professional
Many people may have questions about how their Long-Term Care Insurance meetings will go. Each meeting is a little different, but there are a lot of similarities in the way LTC Insurance specialists and financial advisors hold their meetings.
In this section, we’ll explore how these professionals meet with their clients, and what you can expect from your potential meeting.
Meeting with a Long-Term Care Insurance Specialist
Many Long-Term Care Insurance specialists are primarily available through phone calls and online screen-sharing meetings. There are only a few Long-Term Care Insurance specialists in the country. This means in-person meetings are a bit of a rarity in the industry.
You can meet with a Long-Term Care Insurance specialist from anywhere. Specialists have flexible schedules, often working on weeknights and weekends. Virtual meetings are confidential, convenient, and safe.
Long-Term Care Insurance specialists will often go into great depth in their meetings. They’ll ask you multiple long-term care and financial questions to help match you with the best policy.
They’re also required by law to make sure that Long-Term Care Insurance is the best option for your needs. If they determine it’s not, specialists may direct you to other options.
Meeting with a Financial Advisor
On the other side of things, financial advisors may offer both virtual and in-person meetings. However, some advisors may limit in-person interactions due to Covid-19.
Virtual meetings with financial advisors can take place over the phone or on video-conferencing platforms. Financial advisors may also work remotely and offer the same flexible schedules as Long-Term Care Insurance specialists.
Financial advisors should also ask in-depth questions relating to your long-term care situation. They may emphasize the financial side of things and try to formulate a comprehensive plan that includes long-term health care, asset protection, and retirement planning.
How Do I Find a Professional Who Sells Long-Term Care Insurance?
In the modern world, you can search for and meet with professionals completely online or in person. Now that you know about the meeting process and what makes a professional qualified, you’re ready to find the best professional for your needs.
There are resources you can use to find the right professional for your needs. LTC News has developed a tool to help connect you with a qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist.
We don’t currently offer any tools for finding financial advisors. However, by researching financial advisors that meet your needs, you should be able to find one with ease.
If you’re seeking a financial advisor, we recommend evaluating the advisors available in your area using the questions and qualifications we’ve discussed in this article.
Overall, financial advisors and Long-Term Care Insurance specialists both have their strengths and weaknesses. Long-Term Care Insurance specialists are experts in their specialized fields, and financial advisors are expert retirement and asset planners.
As long as you ask questions and evaluate certifications, you should be able to find a Long-Term Care Insurance professional who meets your needs.