Medical advances have resulted in an increased need for nursing home care and assisted living. Most health insurance plans and Medicare severely limit or exclude long-term care. You should consider these costs as you plan for retirement. Here are some questions to ask when considering a separate long-term care insurance policy.

  • What qualifies you for benefits? Some insurers say you must be unable to perform a specific number of the following activities of daily living: eating, walking, getting from bed to a chair, dressing, bathing, using a toilet and remaining continent.
  • What type of care is covered? Does the policy cover nursing home care? What about coverage for assisted living facilities that provide less client care than a nursing home? If you want to stay in your home, will it pay for care provided by visiting nurses and therapists? What about help with food preparation and housecleaning?
  • What will the benefit amount be? Most plans are written to provide a specific dollar benefit per day. The benefit for home care is usually about half the nursing-home benefit. But some policies pay the same for both forms of care. Other plans pay only for your actual expenses.
  • What is the benefit period? It is possible to get a policy with lifetime benefits but this can be very expensive. Other options for coverage are from one to six years. The average nursing home stay is about 2.5 years.
  • Is the benefit adjusted for inflation? If you buy a policy prior to age 60, you face the risk that a fixed daily benefit will not be enough by the time you need it.
  • Is there a waiting period before benefits begin? A 20 to 100 day period is not unusual.

Other Insurance

  • Travel Insurance. There are four kinds of travel insurance: Travel Cancellation Insurance, Baggage or Personal Effects Coverage, Emergency Medical Coverage and Accidental Death. One helpful website is
  • Identity Theft Insurance. This type of insurance provides reimbursement to crime victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing credit reports. Some companies now include this as part of their homeowner's insurance policy. Others sell it as a stand-alone policy. Ask your homeowner policy company for information.
  • International Healthcare Insurance. A policy that provides health coverage no matter where you are in the world. The policy term is flexible so you can purchase only for the time you will be out of the country. Contact your current healthcare provider for coverage information.
  • Catastrophic Health Care Insurance. A health plan that only cover certain types of expensive care, like hospitalizations.
  • Liability Insurance. Insurance for what the policyholder is legally obligated to pay because of bodily injury or property damage caused to another person. Search online or ask your personal insurance agent for more information.
  • Umbrella insurance A policy that supplements the insurance you already have for home, auto, and other personal property. can help cover costs that exceed the limits of other policies.