Just about all carriers will offer a set daily benefit, up to a lifetime cap. Beyond that, though, long term care insurance plan features, benefits and pricing can vary widely from carrier to carrier, and each of them offer a different mix of available riders and coverages. Here are a few common options:
Home Care Coverage
Some plans will provide a benefit that will pay for a nursing professional or nurse's aid or other caregiver to provide care for you in your home. This benefit may make the difference between having the choice to stay in your own home and being forced to go to an institution. If this benefit is important to you, tell your agent.
Some carriers also allow the insured to begin accessing benefits for home care before the full elimination period has elapsed. For example, if you buy a plan that excludes benefits for the first 60 or 90 days (the elimination period), benefits for home care may become available after 20 days, or even from day one, depending on the carrier and whether you select the appropriate riders.
Inflation protection allows the maximum daily benefit of your long term care insurance policy to increase over time along with inflation. Over time, long-term care costs have outpaced historical inflation by a substantial margin. A maximum daily benefit that seems adequate now may be grossly inadequate when you have a claim, which can be thirty years away or even longer, depending on your age, health and luck.
Inflation protection is expensive - but it is vital. It is so important to have that the federal government requires an inflation protection rider in order for the policy to be considered tax-qualified for the Long Term Care Partnership Program.
There are plans that automatically increase the maximum daily benefit by a set amount each year, keeping the premium level. Other plans increase the daily benefit along with the consumer price index each year. And still others allow the insured an option to purchase additional daily benefit to keep up inflation, regardless of their medical history. This last option, usually called the Guaranteed Purchase Option, provides for a lower initial premium, but those who use this option can expect premium payments to go up over time.
There are a number of riders that provide benefits specific to spouses, which can be very important to consider. For example:
Spousal Waiver of Premium: If one spouse goes on claim, the insurance company pays the long term care insurance premiums for the other spouse.
Spouse Survivorship: If two spouses have both had coverage with the same insurer for a certain number of years, and one spouse dies, the policy for the surviving spouse is fully paid up. That is, no further premiums are due. Sometimes this is built into the policy and sometimes you must purchase it as an additional rider. It depends on the carrier.
Shared Care: Two spouses are able to share a pool of money between them for care. For example, if two spouses each bought coverage with a lifetime limit of 300,000, and one spouse exhausted his or her individual pool of benefits, the couple could elect to begin using up the pool of benefits in the other spouse's policy. Of course, in this event, the other spouse would have less benefit available were he or she to become disabled.
Your agent at Halo Insurance & Benefits Group 314-351-HALO (4256) will have an understanding of what riders are available and can help you structure a long term care insurance plan to meet your individual needs.