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Why you shouldn't wait to buy long-term care insurance, according to experts

There could be serious consequences if you wait too long to purchase long-term care insurance.  Maskot/Getty Images

Have you thought about long-term care and how you'll afford it if you need it later in life? If not, now is probably a good time to do so. After all, most older Americans will need some form of long-term care at some point in their lives - and there's a nearly seven out of 10 chance that you'll be one of them.

The problem is that healthcare costs - including long-term care - are expensive and growing quickly. If you fail to plan for these expenses, they can have a detrimental impact on your quality of life in retirement. While long-term care insurance can help, there may be significant consequences associated with waiting too long to find coverage.  

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Why you shouldn't wait to buy long-term care insurance according to experts

If you've thought about long-term care insurance but decided to wait to purchase a policy, you could be making a serious mistake. In fact, most experts say that you shouldn't wait to purchase coverage. Here's why: 

Age plays a significant role in long-term care insurance premiums

Insurance companies typically set their premiums based on the risk the policy poses. The higher the risk associated with covering someone is, the more money that person will need to pay for coverage. That's one of the biggest reasons "delaying the purchase of long-term care insurance and life insurance is not advisable," according to Heidi Moore, an insurance agent at Country Financial. She says, "costs tend to be lower when you're younger, and there are often more options available."

"From an aging standpoint, in most cases, the cost of a policy increases as the applicant gets older," says Larry Nisenson, chief growth officer at Assured Allies, a financial and insurance planning firm that helps seniors.

The bottom line is that if you want the lowest long-term care insurance premiums available, you'll need to purchase your policy as soon as possible. As time passes, your premiums will likely rise. 

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Health can be unpredictable and a single accident could harm your eligibility

"There are several reasons to avoid delay but the main reason is that health can be unpredictable and you never know how your health will change," says Nisenson. "Something as simple as a fall could impact your ability to purchase a policy or impact the cost of that policy." 

There is no legal requirement for insurance companies to provide you with coverage - you'll need to qualify for a policy. If you purchase a long-term care insurance policy now, before any significant medical events take place, you'll have a higher likelihood of being able to access the coverage you need than you would if you were to wait. 

The long-term care landscape is evolving

The insurance and long-term care industries are evolving. And they'll have to continue doing so to keep up with a mix of next-level innovation and an inflationary economic environment. 

"Given the evolving landscape of long-term care, securing a contract as early as possible is beneficial, especially with companies altering their programs in response to rising costs," explains Moore. 

As the long-term care landscape continues to evolve, insurers are likely going to have to continue increasing premiums and limiting coverages to maintain profitability. So, it's probably a good idea to purchase your coverage now before any further price hikes or coverage changes have the chance to take place. 

You never know when you'll need long-term care

There's no way to predict the events that may lead to your need for long-term care support and services. "You never know when you'll actually need long-term care insurance," explains Kelsey Simasko, an elder law and estate planning attorney at Simasko Law. She says, "you don't want to have no long-term care insurance or an application pending when a sickness hits."

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The bottom line

Considering the fact that most older Americans will need long-term care at some point, and the fact that this care can be quite costly, it's typically a good idea to purchase long-term care insurance as soon as possible. In fact, with healthcare and insurance costs rising, purchasing your coverage as quickly as possible could lead to substantial long-term savings. 

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