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How to get the best long-term care insurance for your parents

Long-term care insurance can help cover the costs of in-home caretakers, allowing your parents to age at home. Getty Images

It's never too early to plan for the future. But for those with parents approaching retirement or even those already enjoying their golden years, planning for what's to come is mandatory. This is particularly true for health care and the ways that older Americans will have to pay for it as they age. Fortunately, some insurance types on the market can help offset these costs. Long-term care insurance is one of them. 

Long-term care insurance can help cover the costs of nursing homes, in-home caretakers and assisted living facilities. This is vital assistance for many older Americans. To get the right policy at the right price point, however, the children of those looking to be insured would benefit from taking certain steps now. By doing so, they will improve the chances that their parents will have cost-effective and valuable coverage when they need it most.

Start by exploring some top long-term care insurance companies and policies online here.

How to get the best long-term care insurance for your parents

Here are three effective ways to get the best long-term care insurance for your parents.

Shop around

Just like you wouldn't buy the first home you saw for sale or the first car you test drove, don't accept the first long-term care insurance policy quote you receive. Instead, shop around and compare quotes and policies to better determine the most valuable one for your parents. Just make sure to complete an accurate comparison. 

For example, make sure to get quotes from each provider for the same exact amount and type of coverage. This will ensure that the policy you ultimately choose really is the best one for your parent — and doesn't just appear to be.

Start comparing long-term care insurance providers online today.

Apply early

Many insurance providers will offer more protection at a lower cost for younger, healthier applicants than it will for older, less healthy adults. Long-term care insurance is no different. While this form of insurance is generally capped for those who reach age 85, it will be cheaper and more comprehensive the earlier you apply in your parents' lives. While an extra bill may not seem ideal now, it will be when stacked against the future costs of a plan. So consider applying early (when your parents are in their 50s). 

Evaluate coverage and elimination periods

Details matter when it comes to finding the best long-term care insurance for your parents. Elimination periods, or waiting periods, are the time between your parent's eligibility and when their policy kicks in (think 30 to 90 days). The longer it is, the lower the potential premiums may be — but you'll need to have financial support during that period; otherwise, waiting for the lower premium may be fruitless. 

Similarly, the coverage period, or length of time a policy will cover the insured, varies. The longer your parent may need the protection a policy provides, the more it'll cost — and vice versa. So be sure to carefully understand both the elimination and coverage periods to hone the best policy for your parents. 

The bottom line

Long-term care insurance can provide vital financial protection both for parents and the loved ones they may otherwise rely on in the absence of this coverage. Because of this importance, then, the children of prospective policyholders must know how to find the best policy for their parents. This includes shopping around for providers to find one offering an ideal mix of comprehensive coverage and limited cost. But it also means applying earlier, when your parent is more likely to be offered both of those options, and it may require a close analysis of the coverage and elimination periods long-term care insurance providers offer. By making these strategic moves now, you can improve your chances of securing long-term care insurance for your parents today — and long into the future. 

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