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6 things long-term care insurance covers that you may not have known about

Long-term care insurance may cover a wide range of things you didn't know about.  Getty Images

Long-term care insurance is an important product to consider as you plan for your retirement. With most older Americans needing extended care at some point in their golden years, this type of insurance can help ease the financial burden that care represents. And that burden often amounts to tens of thousands of dollars (or more) per year

Most people are probably already aware that long-term care insurance can cover the cost of assisted living communities and nursing homes. But that's not where the value of this type of insurance stops. In fact, long-term care insurance can cover a wide range of things that you may not have known about. 

Purchase a long-term care insurance policy now to take advantage of a wide range of coverage options

6 things long-term care insurance covers that you may not have known about

"The greatest benefit of long-term care insurance that many don't realize is flexibility," explains Jeff Beligotti, vice president and head of long-term care solutions at the insurance company, New York Life. "The flexibility and protection long-term care insurance provides can bring peace of mind and reduce the stress of an already stressful situation."

But how flexible is long-term care insurance? Here are six things this type of insurance covers that you may not know about: 

Informal caregivers

If you plan on aging at home with the support of your family and friends, your plan includes informal caregivers (caregivers who haven't likely been formally trained). While some long-term care insurance policies only cover formal caregivers (professional caregiving services), some policies also make it possible to pay your loved ones (and other informal caregivers) for your care

Find out how affordable long-term care insurance can be today

Home renovations

"Some long-term care policies will cover the cost of home modifications that can accommodate disabilities," explains Justin Stivers, financial advisor and founding attorney at the estate planning law firm, Stivers Law. 

For example, if you're unable to traverse stairs, your long-term care insurance policy may pay for the installation of a ramp that leads to your front door or a wheelchair lift that makes it possible for you to enjoy the second story of your home. 

Therapies not typically covered by health insurance

Long-term care insurance may also cover the cost of alternative therapy options that aren't typically covered as part of a health insurance policy. "This may include acupuncture, massage therapy and other holistic approaches," says Stivers.

Transportation services

If you need help getting back and forth to your doctor, therapist or other places of care, a long-term care insurance policy could help with the trip. "Long-term care may cover transport services that take you to and from," medical appointments and other destinations, Stivers says.

A death benefit

Long-term care insurance can provide benefits beyond your care. For example, some policies may come with a death benefit that's paid to your beneficiaries when you die. These policies, known as linked-benefit long-term care insurance policies, give you long-term care insurance coverage should you need it and a death benefit if you don't.

And, this isn't a one or the other concept. With some linked-benefit long-term care insurance policies, you may be able to use a portion of your benefit for care and leave a portion of your benefit behind as a death benefit for those you love when you die. 

Cash benefits

"Long-term care cash benefits policies can provide a monthly cash benefit that may be used for any purpose," says Stivers. "The flexibility allows policyholders to use funds for household expenses, travel, groceries, etc."

So, this cash benefit can make it possible for you to hire a landscaping company when you're not able to maintain your lawn anymore or hire a maid from time to time to help keep your house clean, or cover any of an unlimited number of potential expenses later in life. 

The bottom line

Long-term care insurance isn't just a product that can help you cover the cost of a nursing home or assisted living facility. There are several lesser-known benefits of long-term care insurance, too.

Some policies may cover the cost of informal caregivers like your family and friends, home renovations and therapies not typically covered by health insurance. You may also be able to use your policy to pay for transportation services or, if it's a cash-benefit policy, a wide range of other expenses. And, long-term care insurance can even come with a death benefit. 

However, it's important to remember that not all long-term care insurance policies are identical. Some will have strict coverage requirements while others will be more flexible. So, it's important to make sure you understand what's covered as part of a specific long-term care insurance policy before you purchase it. 

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