Clients contact me to find out how they can protect their estates from the high cost of nursing home care using trusts and other estate planning techniques. The first thing I always advise is to purchase long term care insurance. I have always said that age 60 is a good age to make that purchase. So last August when I turned 60, it hit me that I should finally make that purchase myself.
My wife and I did purchase policies concluding the process at the end of April. Although I am knowledgeable about LTCI, I did learn a few things being personally involved in the purchase decision. My advice to clients has been to go to an insurance agent that specializes in LTCI. In Dayton, Ohio, that is Randy Gallas of the Long Term Care Insurance Agency. www.ltcinsuranceagency.com After spending a few months laboriously going over all the options and riders, he confirmed my advice that he is the best person. I have to admit I did look into two other long term care insurance policies that he could not offer. These were companies that sell only through their own captive agents. These companies just did not compare in terms of their price and the features they offered. They were more money but not as good a policy. So I wasted some time on them and ended up back with the companies Randy presented to me. I also learned that the underwriters who review the application and medical records are outside contractors for the insurance company. Their knowledge of medical information is certainly not on par with a doctor and, depending on the particular underwriter, they may not interpret the medical records correctly.
If your application is denied or you do not get a top health rating (which affects your premium rate), there is a process to appeal their decision. Randy told me that he handles more appeals than Alan Dershowitz (well know Harvard law professor and appellate lawyer). In our case he did appeal a rating decision and won. In fact, he just called directly to a person he knew at the insurance company and explained the facts to them. That person then overruled the underwriter’s rating decision.
In all, it was a learning experience and confirmed my advice to my clients that you need to go to a specialist in long term care insurance who can offer you numerous companies to choose from in your purchase. Going to an agent that can only sell you only one company’s policy is like buying a car by going to a Ford dealer and just looking at one model.