LTC insurance feels better than ever

By Susan Zimmerman

Mindful Asset Programs

In normal times of generally good economic news, it doesn't occur to me to read my LTCI policy just for fun. But I do like the clarity it provides, even if it is written in the crisp, unsentimental language of insurance. Yet just a few years ago, LTCI seemed like an unpleasant topic -- the thought of being old and chronically ill was more easily denied than pondered.

I'm still young (sort of) and healthy (not like I was in my twenties, but pretty darn healthy). I appreciate that more than ever. I don't have any obvious lifestyle habits that increase the odds of my ending up in a nursing home, and most of my clients are in a similar place. We're in that aging baby boomer group who are just beginning to do more for elderly parents -- some of whom are moving into nursing homes or have already passed away. Those realities help contribute to my appreciation of long term care insurance policies.

But these days it's more than that. The uncertainty in the economy and the financial markets also make reading your long term care insurance policy a bit more enjoyable. If you've postponed LTCI for yourself or your clients, now could be the perfect time to revisit this product.

For example, look at the "Schedule of Benefits" page of your LTCI policy for a boost. Here's one place you can find definite language about a future promise. Your lifetime maximum benefit is one clearly defined number; no decimal points, share prices or "depending on market performance" caveats in the summary of coverage. And how nice it feels to read the words "Inflation Protection" with a single number defining it. I've got my policy and I understand it, but nonetheless, I love seeing the additional printed line, "If you have any questions about your benefits, please call our 1-800 number." Knowing not only that there is someone out there to answer questions, but also who exactly to contact provides additional peace of mind.

Despite what might otherwise be considered as somewhat dry material, there's just so much to love on these pages. Who'd have thought the sentences that once seemed tremendously dull and boring would suddenly look so great? For an example, I'll share one more favorite line and italicize the feel-good words: "You will be eligible for a benefit if, on or after the effective date of your coverage and while your coverage is in effect, you become Chronically Ill." I don't know why they capitalized the words "Chronically Ill," but who cares. It will be there if and when I need it, and that's a splendid reassurance when there's currently so much bad news focused on numerous other, less reliable things.

Maybe, just to feel truly young again, I'll scribble this on a public bathroom wall: "For a good time, read your long term care insurance policy!"

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