Long-term care coverage, once thought to be for “older consumers”, has been attracting younger buyers over the last 15 years.
The baby boomers are the first generation to be hit hard with the LTC needs of parents – and their eyes are opening.
The change in the average age of a person purchasing LTC coverage barely moved between 1990 (age 68) and 2000 (age 67), according to the SCAN Foundation. But, as baby boomers started nearing retirement, movement in the age of purchasers began a move downward, and is now at age 57, according to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance.
— (Related on ThinkAdvisor: Under the Hood: Life Expectancy and Financial Planning)
The LTC industry has changed as well. Insurance companies have learned more with time and claims experience, and they are getting better at underwriting and avoiding risks that impact a company’s bottom line. While the percentage of LTC applicant declines have held steady for persons age 70 and older, the percentage of declines for younger applicants is increasing. And while declines are still relatively low for people aged 69 and younger, the decline rate for applicants below age 50 has surprisingly doubled since 20072. Clients waiting to purchase LTC “until later” will undoubtedly pay a higher price for the policy, but they also risk an increase in the chance they won’t qualify for a policy at all.
A Change in Linked-Benefit LTC Policies
People wanting the features of traditional LTC policies without the risk that comes with such a purchase may have an interest in linked-benefit LTC coverage. Fortunately for consumers, another industry change has come with linked-benefit LTC products. These policies were once marketed as a single premium asset based repositioning of an asset. The single premium purchased a nice amount of LTC coverage; but if never needed for LTC benefits – the policy would pay a death benefit at least equal to the premium amount that was paid. But an extended low interest rate environment has left insurance companies weary of accepting an abundance of single premiums, thus companies have opened up the opportunity for consumers to purchase linked-benefit policies with premium schedules of up to 10 years – and with monthly premium payments!
Linked-Benefit LTC Coverage: The “Third Car” Payment
These new premium payment opportunities open a new door for younger clients who are high earners. It is not uncommon for individuals who are younger to have most of their assets tied up in qualified funds such as 401(k) accounts, IRAs, etc. Thus they have no sizable liquid non-qualified or after tax asset that can be repositioned. Yet, these high earners may have excess monthly income that could be devoted to a premium payment for a linked benefit LTC policy.
One way to position such a purchase is to use an analogy of purchasing a third luxury car.
A “car” paid for with monthly payments and paid up in ten years.
A “car” that won’t lose value.
And “car” that will provide “good mileage” if life’s journey includes the need for long-term care services.