What to Look for When You Buy a Long-Term-Care Policy

Long-Term Care Insurance

What to Look for When You Buy a Long-Term-Care Policy

A few key decisions you make when you buy a long-term-care policy can make a big difference when it comes time to file an insurance claim.

Ask about claims-paying history. Check with independent insurance agents about the company's reputation and look up the insurer's complaint record with the state insurance department to see whether any enforcement actions have been taken against it. For example, in May 2008, state insurance regulators fined insurer Conseco $2.3 million and mandated $30 million in claims-handling improvements and restitution.

Check a company's financial strength. You'll find A.M. Best's ratings of the insurer's financial strength at our insurance page. You may not have to file a claim for 20 or 30 years; a financially sound insurer will still be around to pay up.

Study the details of your policy. Find out what type of caregivers are covered and how the waiting period is calculated.

Update your policy. Some of the biggest problems stem from old policies that have out-of-date requirements for triggering benefits -- for example, requiring a three-day hospital stay before benefits kick in. Insurers sometimes let policyholders update their policies as new provisions come out regardless of their current health.