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I’m frequently asked “When is the best time to look into long term care protection?” Although there’s no universal ideal time, here are some key points to consider:

1) The ideal time to explore options is when someone is in a position to be able to plan for the future….whatever that looks like for the individual. It may be when the last college tuition is paid off, or it might be after observing what’s been happening with one’s own parents as they age. It may be when an Estate Planning Attorney or Financial Advisor initiates a discussion about long term care. Or it may be when one spouse mentions that he or she isn’t comfortable with the looming risk of a future extended care need. Regardless of the reason, whenever that first time arises, that’s the best time to do the research.

2) Generally speaking, coverage will never be less expensive or easier to obtain if someone waits compared to today. It’s always better in the long run to pay a lower premium for more years, rather than a higher premium for fewer years. In the case of a lump sum premium, this is also based upon current age and health, so again the cost would be less today compared to in the future.

3) As we age, our health tends to change; this not only impacts the cost of coverage, but also whether the applicant is even eligible for the coverage. Waiting often means it’s not an option in the future.

4) Insurance carriers are now adding more eligibility restrictions based on family history. For example, several carriers currently state that if an applicant had one parent who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, that would still be acceptable. But in the future that restriction could change, rendering someone uninsurable based on their parents’ history.

This chart shows the percentages of declines by age bands. You can see that older applicants are turned down for coverage far more frequently than younger applicants.

Chart long term care insurance costs by age

As an advisor with your client’s best interests in mind, you should understand how a significant long term care event can impact your client’s retirement portfolio.  This impact is typically emotional as well as financial as it affects a spouse, adult children, and other loved ones. By the time an extended care need arises, it’s too late to have those discussions. Now is the best time to begin the conversation.