Governor Jerry Brown's recent decision to sign AB 999 will help protect consumers from excessive premium rate hikes in long-term care insurance. Let this be the example for other states.
October 03, 2012
Last year, the California State Assembly passed AB 999 to protect consumers from excessive long term care premium rate increases. Sponsorship of the bill by the California Department of Insurance demonstrates they recognize the real dangers of excessive premium rate increases on our seniors, says Frank N. Darras, the nation's top insurance lawyer.
Governor Jerry Brown's recent decision to sign AB 999 will help protect consumers from excessive premium rate hikes in long-term care insurance by modifying the rate development process. It will also allow consumers to make more informed decisions when buying a long-term care insurance policy by giving them the chance to review policy language before purchase. This should be a matter discussed throughout the northeast as it is a viable option for seniors and boomers, says Darras.
"For years seniors have been targeted with rate increase after premium rate increase. Whether they live in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. Now that the boomers are becoming seniors, the repeated unreasonable pattern of increased premium rates is indeed a reality," says Darras.
AB 999 is great start in affecting change and regulation for long term care policyholders, but there are steps you can take now to help yourself. Choosing a long term care policy takes considerable thought and a lot of research. You may find that the most important decision you make may very well be the carrier you select.
Here is my checklist to help select a good long term care insurer:
Research the company's commitment to long term care. Check with your state's Department of Insurance and other similar organizations to access this information. Questions to ask are:
- How long have they been selling their policies to seniors?
- How many new policies do they bring to the market in your state every year?
- How often have they requested premium rate increases and at what percent?
Check the overall financial strength and size of the company and review their annual reports:
- What kind of media coverage are they receiving? Is it positive or negative?
- Are there current legal actions against the company or punitive damage verdicts assessed in the past five years?
- Does the company promote rate stability or do their rates "creep"?
Check their record of claims payment:
- Are there any market-conduct investigations or class-action lawsuits making news?
- What would happen to your coverage if the company is sold or goes out of business?
- What is the company's definition of long term care?
If you need long term care, can it be provided:
- In your home?
- In the home of a family member?
- In an adult day care service facility?
- In an assisted living facility?
- In a senior center?
- In a hospice facility?
- In a nursing home?
- Do you need a written plan of care by your doctor, approved by the insurance company before the policy kicks in?
Your family's financial future and their independent living will depend on how carefully you shop. Be smart, understand the fine print and have any legalese translated by a top insurance lawyer so you are sure you get what you are paying for, says Darras.