Should Couples Consider Shared-Benefit Coverage?

Many long-term-care (LTC) insurance policies are designed to protect individuals and insure just one person.

When it comes to couples, though, what happens if one spouse or partner needs more coverage than that offered by the individual policy?

Many insurance companies have addressed this need with shared-benefit LTC options.

LTC policies that offer shared benefits enable spouses or partners the ability to use some or all of the other’s benefits when their own have been exhausted.

And they can often do so for a premium that’s less than purchasing additional coverage outright on each separate policy.

For example, if a policy offers three years of benefits to each spouse or partner and one has used the pool of benefits dollars for three years, then the benefit for that individual will continue by dipping into the other partner’s pool of benefit dollars.

While these “shared care” types of LTC policies typically cost more than buying two separate policies, they allow policyholders to buy a policy with a shorter benefit term with a “pool” of benefits that both insured individuals can share.

In addition, some shared-benefit LTC policies now offer a provision to protect a surviving spouse or partner.

For example, if one partner passes away, the survivor’s policy benefits will go up by the amount of the deceased spouse’s or partner’s unused benefit dollars.

Some policies even offer the option for the surviving partner to buy a new LTC policy without the need to go through medical underwriting – even if the individual has poor health and would otherwise be disqualified.

Purchasing a shared-benefit LTC insurance policy – especially one that offers survivorship benefits – can help to protect spouses or partners from greater-than-expected LTC expenses, as well as help to avoid the risk that a deceased spouse’s or partner’s unused LTC benefits will disappear.