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What Do I Look For In A Long Term Care Insurance Company?

Mar 22, 2008
What do I look for in a good company? You know that you should buy long term care insurance, but where should you look and which company should you consider? A lot of advisers either sell one company's policy, or they only sell a few policies a year, or truthfully, they really don't know. So what do you look for in a good company?

We've all heard that any insurance policy is only as good as the company standing behind it, but what does that mean? It means that the company must meet the standards of an excellent and superior rating. In order to achieve a rating like this a company must meet certain requirements. Look for:

Financially sound companies Committed companies with a large client base Claims paying history Length of time selling LTC insurance History of rate increases

They all sort of blend into one another, but let's look at them in detail:

Financially Sound Companies Check their ratings with the companies that rate the strength of insurance companies. Generally you can get a good flavor of the company's financial strength by looking at their A.M. Best rating. If you want to back up your findings, you can by looking at Standard & Poor, Moody's, Fitch, Duff & Phelps or Weiss Research, A.M. Best usually gives a very good overview of the companies strength and the companies don't have to join the rating service in order to be rated.

Where do I get this? Updates are published monthly, quarterly and annually and can be found in any public library. In addition, you can usually find the ratings on each company's web site. Do this first and then ask your agent.

Committed Companies With A Large Client Base "The theory of large numbers" works here. The larger the client base the better buffer you have against rate increases. As claims come in the companies need to financially spread these over their client base. If larger claims come in than forecasted then the company has to decide whether to absorb this into its projected cost of business or to pass this along to policy holders in the form of a premium rate increase. Companies who have made a commitment to this line of business normally do not raise premiums. A smaller, uncommitted company may be more inclined to do this.

Where do I get this? The company web site should have their policyholder information readily available. Also the agent representing the company should have their marketing materials, approved by the state where you live, that give policyholder information. In addition, you can get more information from the rating agencies, A.M. Best etc.

Claims Paying History Sometimes a good financial rating may not tell the whole story. Some companies with good ratings have been known to deny or delay paying claims in health insurance. If they use that same practice in other areas, then there is a good chance it will do so for long term care insurance claims. Also, it is important to ask how many claims have been paid since they started selling LTC insurance.

Where do I get this? Call your state insurance department for information on the complaints filed about specific companies. If this isn't available then sometimes you need to use your own judgment based on size and reputation of the company. A well-known company is less likely to risk bad publicity for this type of action.

Length Of Time Selling LTC Insurance The Company that you choose should have been selling long term care insurance since the early 1990's. If they haven't then they probably have not been in the business long enough to have experienced enough claims. Without good claims experience then a company can't tell if they have set their premium rates correctly. You do not want a company to find out that they set them wrong to begin with and you are the recipient of a "rate adjustment".

Where do I get this? Once again if you look at the same sources from the above items you will find this information. The state approved company marketing materials will have this information as well as an informed LTC insurance agent. History Of Rate Increases Any company that has ever had a rate increase to its existing clients should not be a company for primary consideration. There are always exceptions to this especially when it comes to health issues and the need for coverage from a company that specializes in these problems.

Where do I get this? You can always contact your state department of insurance and ask them, or ask your agent. However, a sure fire way to do it is to ask your agent for the first page of the long-term care insurance personal worksheet for that particular company. This is a part of their application and will always show their rate increase history.

Finally! Now we know what to look for in a good company. The ideal company will be very large and financially sound. It will have a lot of long term care insurance clients and will have sold these policies since the early 1990's. In addition it will not have any complaints with your state insurance department concerning the payment of claims. And finally, the ideal company will have a good reputation and will not have ever raised rates to their existing clients in any state.
About the Author
Before you go out and buy a policy go to Long Term Care Insurance Guide and read Simplifying Long-Term Care
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