Long-term care (LTC) insurance is a smart way to get ready to face what can be a hefty cost later in life. Many people need some help taking care of themselves as they get older — especially these days, with medical advances leading to people living longer. This care, though, can get expensive. A private room in a nursing home can run more than $105,000 each year, while a home care aide will run you nearly $55,000. While there are some government programs like Medicaid and state agencies that can help cover this, getting LTC insurance now is one of the best ways to be ready for these costs. There are a number of options available in terms of LTC. For help determining your LTC insurance needs and how to address them, consider working with a financial advisor.
LTC insurance works the same as any other insurance product. You pay premiums, and in exchange you end up with a benefit later in life which can be used to pay for any covered services. These services usually fall into three buckets — home care, assisted living and skilled nursing. Other services that may be included are adult day care, homemaking assistance and even hospice care.
Most Stable Long-Term Care Insurance Provider: New York Life
Pros – Strong financial ratings
– Offers LTC alone or with life insurance Cons – Quotes unavailable online Best For – Those who prioritize a company with safe financials
When buying an insurance policy, you always want to make sure you are doing business with an insurer that is stable. This means they get high ratings from independent agencies. An unstable insurer is always going to be at higher risk of of failure, especially if there is an economic downturn.
With that in mind, the best choice if you’re looking for stability is New York Life. The company has an A+++ rating from AM Best, a AAA rating from Fitch Ratings, an Aaa rating from Moody’s and an AA+ rating from S&P. On top of this, the company gave a $1.8 billion dividend payout to eligible stockholders in 2020, the second-largest dividend in company history. All in all, New York Life is an extremely stable insurer and if that’s what you are looking for, it is a good choice for you.
Beyond this, there are a variety of products available at New York Life, including traditional stand-alone LTC coverage and LTC coverage connected to a life insurance policy.
Full Review: New York Life
Best Long-Term Care Insurance for Payout Options: Brighthouse
Pros – Has a combination LTC and IUL policy
– Multiple growth options for LTC returns Cons – Can’t get quotes easily Best For – Anyone who wants many options for LTC
Brighthouse Financial offers LTC care as part of a broader life-insurance policy. What makes Brighthouse unique is the number of options offered for how your benefit will be determined. There are three basic options:
Indexed LTC: This option has the highest potential for benefit growth, as the benefit growth is to one or several market indices. While you aren’t guaranteed growth, yout benefit cannot drop below the starting point in your policy.
Fixed Growth LTC: This option sees your benefit grow with 5% compounded growth annually. This is a hedge against inflation, as LTC care costs are likely to continue growing through the years.
Level LTC: This option has a fixed benefit amount that never grows.
Your premium will depend on the benefit payment you want and which growth option you choose.
Full Review: Brighthouse
Best Preparatory Tools for Long-Term Care: Mutual of Omaha
Pros – Reasonable premiums and discounts
– Good financial outlook Cons – Limited LTC options Best For – Those looking for a good deal on LTC
Mutual of Omaha is a Nebraska-based firm offering a variety of insurance products. One of the best things Mutual of Omaha has going for it is its premium prediction tool, allowing you to get a sense of what you’ll be paying in premiums before you even contact an agent.
Here’s how the calculator works: you fill out a few basic pieces of information about yourself (age, sex, location) and choose how much you want to receive in monthly benefit payments when you start drawing benefits. From there, the calculator will spit out a few potential premium payments. With this information, you can have a sense of what your cost will be if you get a policy without having to deal with any salespeople.
Full Review: Mutual of Omaha
Best Long-Term Care Insurance Customer Satisfaction: Northwestern Mutual
Pros – Great financial strength
– Premium waiver feature Cons – No online quotes Best For – Those who want a company with a strong customer service track record
In 1998, Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company, the underwriter of Northwestern Mutual policies, introduced its QuietCare product. This is a traditional LTC insurance policy rather than an LTC policy paired with a life insurance policy or annuity.
Since then the company has introduced various enhancements to its LTC policies, including adding caregiver training, a hospice care benefit, an exchange program for existing policyowners and a companion discount in approved states. The company, which also offers the ability to obtain care in Canada, provides some inflation protection, too.
Such enhancements and additions have been well received. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Northwestern has received no complaints related to its LTC insurance products in 2018, 2019 or 2020. Furthermore, the Better Business Bureau gives Northwestern an A+ rating – though it is not officially accredited by the organization.
Full Review: Northwestern Mutual
Best Care Options for Long-Term Care Insurance: Bankers Life
Pros – Two choices for LTC policies Cons – Its financial ratings have been under review recently Best For – Those who want to choose the level of care stipulated in their policy
One of the most important parts of LTC insurance is knowing what services your plan will cover. While most companies seem to offer only a one-size-fits-all option, at Bankers Life you can pick between two options, choosing whichever one you think is best for you.
The first choice is comprehensive LTC insurance. This covers any services needed, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day care centers and home care services.
The other option is facility-only insurance, which won’t cover any at-home services. Instead, this is only for use if your condition is serious enough to move into a LTC facility, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities and Alzheimer’s facilities.
The second option will have lower premiums, but obviously it will give you less flexibility in the long run. Bankers Life receives acceptable scores from ratings agencies and is generally financially healthy.
Full Review: Bankers Life
Long-Term Care Insurance Tips
The best thing to do when planning for LTC is to get professional help. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
Life insurance may be a part of a LTC insurance package. Find out how much you need with SmartAsset’s free life insurance calculator.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Sanja Radin, New York Life, Brighthouse Financial, Mutual of Omaha, Northwestern Mutual, Bankers Life, ©iStock.com/Hispanolistic