Adding a Long-Term Care Rider to Your Life Insurance Policy in Washington

Life Insurance
December 3, 2021
couple discussing life insurance policy with insurance agent

Long-term care is not something most people want to contemplate, but if the need for it arises, how can residents in the state of Washington make sure they are covered? Typically, long-term care comes into play when someone needs help maintaining the basics of life, including practicing good hygiene, cleaning, cooking and taking medication, or applying wound care. This can be the result of an illness, such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, HIV/AIDS, or diabetes or it could be the result of a major injury, such as a traumatic brain injury. Long-term care may also involve ongoing therapy and, in final stages, hospice. Long-term care may take place in your home or it may happen in a nursing or care facility. 

Long-term care is not cheap. At the high end, an Alzheimers’ patient may need more than $300,000 in LTC. At the lower end – but still plenty high – is an average $130,000 annually. That’s out of pocket. As a Washington resident, your life insurance coverage from Vern Fonk can include LTC coverage as a rider or an optional add-on which can help make LTC more affordable. Your cost for LTC coverage will depend on several factors, most importantly, your age. 

Who Should Consider a LTC Rider? 

An LTC rider on your life insurance policy can bring peace of mind. If you are concerned that you may be one of the roughly 20 percent of people who will need long-term care for five or more years, talking to your insurance agent about it may help reassure you and help you feel prepared.  

It’s hard to say for sure if you will need long-term care, but looking into it sooner rather than later may enable you to make decisions while you still can. It’s harder to make good, well-thought-out plans after you’ve had a heart attack or a stroke. 

Many people think about getting genetic testing – especially if there is some hereditary disease or issue in their family tree. Just be forewarned, you can be turned down for LTC insurance based on the results of genetic testing you may have had performed. 

What Your LTC Rider in Washington is Likely to Cover 

If you qualify to receive benefits, your LTC insurance rider will typically cover the following categories of services as long as they are delivered in a setting deemed appropriate by Washington regulators: 

In order to use your LTC benefits, the state of Washington requires you to be unable to perform at least two of the listed activities of daily living (ADLs) without help. Those activities include being able to move and walk independently, able to feed yourself, able to select the appropriate clothing and put it on, bathe and groom appropriately, control bladder and bowel function and use the toilet appropriately. There is a lesser list of activities that may indicate a person needs help with daily life, including going shopping and managing transportation, and managing finances, housecleaning, communication, and medication. 

paper and pen with life insurance document

How to Get an LTC Rider in Washington with Your Life Insurance Policy 

If you’re interested in making sure that your life insurance policy includes LTC coverage when you might need it, the most critical step is to bring this need to the attention of your insurance agent. 

In the state of Washington, a life insurance policy must be structured in a certain way for a benefit to be considered an actual LTC insurance rider. According to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC), the rider must “pay a benefit dedicated to cover long-term care services…as opposed to a lump sum or payment to be used at the discretion of the insured.” 

In other words, it must be clearly spelled out that the policy payout is to be used strictly for long-term care. 

There are two other similar kinds of life insurance riders that the OIC does not recognize as being the same as LTC riders. These are known as an accelerated death benefit and the critical illness rider. Both share a common trait with the LTC benefit in that meeting the qualifications of each can result in the policyholder being able to take a withdrawal of cash benefits from the policy while still living. Unlike the LTC rider, those who have either of these other two can qualify for withdrawal after failing to perform one ADL without assistance rather than two or more. 

You can also get separate insurance coverage for long-term care. Ask your agent to explain the respective advantages of purchasing an add-on or a separate policy for the service. 

Discuss Your Options with Your Washington Insurance Agent 

Is it confusing? It can be. But with the odds at around 70 percent that an American who is 65 years old today will need long-term care at some point in their life, the costs and details of such an add-on should be explored. 

That’s why you need to discuss LTC with your insurance agent. At Vern Fonk Insurance, we’re here to act as your advisor as you search for insurance of various kinds for yourself and your loved ones. Simply call us at (800) 455-8276 or go online to get a quote for quality life insurance with an LTC rider or visit us at one of our offices