Long-Term Care Insurance Agents Vary; Pick Yours Carefully
January 28, 2021
Lakewood, OH January 28, 2020 — According to many experts, the best way to buy long-term care insurance is through an independent, state-licensed agent. However, not all agents are the same. How do you select a professional who’s right for your purposes?
"I suggest asking six key questions," says Denise Gott, a state-licensed agent with ACSIA Partners LLC, one of the nation’s largest long-term care insurance agencies. The questions are –
1. Do you recommend long-term care insurance for everyone, or are there better solutions for some people? Today, long-term care (LTC) insurance is far from the only way to cover LTC expenses. Current alternatives range from critical illness insurance to life insurance with an LTC rider. "If you’re not absolutely sure if LTC insurance is what you need," says Gott, "your best bet may be consulting someone who offers the full range of choices."
2. Are you licensed in my geographic area? LTC agents are licensed state-by-state, not nationally. "Be sure you pick someone who’s licensed in your area," Gott says. "Also, probe the scope of the agent’s practice. Many agents are licensed in two, three, or more states. Licensing in multiple states may be a sign of a person’s proficiency, but some single-state agents build very large clienteles close to home and may be equally experienced."
3. What insurance carriers do you represent? "If the agent mentions just one carrier, beware," says Gott. "Your best bet is someone who represents multiple companies, offering a range of coverage options. The idea is to compare alternative plans and find the one with the features you want at a cost with which you are comfortable. Also, if your application is turned down by one company, you’ll have alternatives."
4. Do you receive higher commissions on some LTC policies than on others? "The best answer is no," says Gott. "Some agencies, including ours, have a procedure for equalizing commission income. This ensures
that agents get the same commission rate no matter what policy you buy. There’s no temptation for them to push a high-profit item."
5. What can you tell me about tax breaks and other financial ramifications of long-term care insurance? "An LTC agent is NOT a financial or tax expert, but should be knowledgeable in those areas," says Gott. "Experienced agents know about the relevant regulations and often consult with clients’ financial
advisors, accountants, estate planners, and attorneys."
6. How can I learn more about you? "The aim of this question is to uncover the agent’s reputation," says
Gott. "Can they name professionals who recommend them? Have they been featured in or consulted on any online, magazine, or newspaper articles? Are they scheduled to speak at an upcoming event? Can they be found on the Internet? Can they give you references?"
"Regardless of whether you engage a particular agent," says Gott, "answers to these questions will get you off to a good start toward the protection you seek."
As a licensed long-term care insurance agent, Gott advises on the full range of LTC planning options, which include:
• Traditional long-term care insurance through multiple carriers
• "Hybrid" policies (typically life insurance with long-term care riders)
• Worksite long-term care (portable individual voluntary plans with group advantages)
• Annuities with tax-advantaged long-term care features
• Critical illness insurance
• Additional protections including long-term care education and referrals to top care services