How to Unlock Long-Term Care Insurance Benefits
If we live long enough, many of us will require long-term care at some point, such as help with housekeeping, meals, hygiene or transportation. One of the ways to manage the high costs associated with this type of care is to offset it with a long-term care insurance policy. While the policy itself may not be cheap, having a predictable annual insurance premium can help simplify your financial planning.
Despite the advantages of long-term care insurance, some people run into obstacles when it comes time to claim their benefits. After paying premiums for years, they expect that filing a claim will be simple, only to discover that successfully unlocking their benefits is often harder than it looks. Here are some tips that might smooth out the process for you.
Before you file a long-term care insurance claim
We believe that taking the following steps long before you need to file a claim is a good way to clarify expectations and minimize confusion and anxiety when the time eventually comes:
- Know what is covered. Every policy is different, so it’s important to thoroughly read and understand what’s covered. For example, many policies will cover “assisted daily living,” which means needing help with two or more specific daily activities, such as bathing, eating, dressing, going to the bathroom or getting in and out of bed or a chair.
- Know when your benefits start. Understand the elimination period, which is the number of days that must pass before benefits will kick in and be paid.
- Know who can help you. Understand requirements around the types of professionals and what specific licensing is needed to qualify for benefits. Hiring a neighbor who is not licensed to help is usually not covered under the policy.
- Know how the money will flow. Work directly with the facility that will be providing care and let them know about your long-term care policy. If possible, meet with the Finance Director or billing department that will be interacting with the insurance company on your behalf so everyone is on the same page regarding potential claims.
You may also want to consider setting up Power of Attorney for Property documents to name someone who can communicate with the insurer and the facility on your behalf in case you’re unable to do so.
Filing a long-term care insurance claim
Your long-term care insurance provider has a legal obligation to honor your policy, but they do not have an incentive to hand out benefits quickly or easily. It could take some patience and persistence on your part.
To keep things moving, it’s essential to give the insurer all the information they need to process your claim. To prevent unnecessary processing delays, it’s also important to ensure complete accuracy whenever submitting any forms. We recommend clarifying with the caregiving facility exactly who is responsible for providing which information to the insurance company.
We also believe that it’s wise to keep detailed records to support your claim and to keep track of everything that is (or isn’t) happening. This may include:
- The date and type of care you are receiving
- The date, time and name of the person you speak to on every phone call
- The date and amount of all reimbursements as they occur
It pays to be prepared
Long-term care insurance is one of those things that you wish you’ll never need but are glad to have if you actually do need it. Given the realities of aging and the challenges associated with the rising cost of care, you and your Corient Private Wealth Advisor might determine that it makes sense for your financial plan to include such insurance coverage.
If you do decide to buy a long-term care insurance policy, we hope that these tips will help you unlock all of the benefits to which you are rightfully entitled.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam is an Associate Partner, Wealth Advisor in our Itasca, IL, office. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) and earned a BS in Finance from Northern Illinois University. He has over 15 years of experience working in finance. In addition to serving clients as a Wealth Manager, he also specializes in helping families with aging parents and loved ones.
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