Winning the Waiting Game

When you buy a long-term care (LTC) insurance policy, read the fine print carefully to see how the “waiting period” or “elimination period” requirement will be satisfied.

Good policy: You have to satisfy the waiting period only once. Suppose you choose a policy with a 90-day waiting period. If you pay for 30 days of care in 2011 and 60 days of care in 2012, the requirement will be met and further care will be covered.

Flawed policy: Only consecutive days or days within a certain time period count towards the waiting period. Suppose you have a 90-day wait, as above. Suppose you need 30 days of care in 2011, but then care ceases. With some policies, you still have a 90-day waiting period.

Other policies will count that 30 days towards your 90-day waiting period but only if the other 60 days occur relatively soon. Either way, such policies raise obstacles to paying benefits.