Tag: agents

Bundle Up! Winter’s Home-Buying Game Has Changed. Here’s How To Win

How to buy a house this winterViktoriia Hnatiuk / Getty Images

Savvy home buyers know that winter is typically a good time to embark on a house hunt, since much of their competition stays holed up at home until spring. But this winter, buyers might notice that despite the cold and the holidays, they’ve got company.

Lots of it, in fact.

“Normally winter is a good time for buyers,” says realtor.com® chief economist Danielle Hale. However, since the coronavirus kept buyers on lockdown for much of spring, many are making up for lost time by home shopping hard right now.

“This year’s unusual seasonal pattern means that buyers aren’t getting the usual break from the market frenzy that they typically do in the cooler weather,” Hale explains.

As a result, this winter is shaping up to be a seller’s market, with low real estate inventory, high prices, and bidding wars that could give buyers a major run for their money.

This doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel—just that you’ll have to hone your house hunt in new ways to suit the times. Here are some tactics that will keep you ahead of the pack so you’ll be sitting in a new home by the new year.

Secure your financing as soon as possible

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage and securing financing are an essential first step when buying a home. It gives you a clear picture of how much house you can afford, and lets you make an offer as soon as you find your dream home.

Matt van Winkle, a real estate broker and owner at Re/Max Northwest Realtors in Seattle, says this process is more important now than ever.

“Getting pre-approved for a loan is obviously important, but is there anything else they can do to put themselves in a good position?” he says. “Buyers need to be ready to buy a house before they start looking.”

Too often, buyers don’t line up their financing until they find a home they want to buy, van Winkle says. In the current competitive market, waiting to get pre-approval means you could lose out on purchasing a home you love.

“That creates a mad dash and stress to get everything lined up under pressure,” he says. “Get all your financing secured and ready before you look, that way when you find the right home you’re 100% ready.”

Starting early could also help you lock in an ultralow interest rate, which could affect your monthly mortgage payment and mean you could afford a more expensive home. As of Oct. 22, Freddie Mac listed rates at 2.8% for a 30-year fixed-rate loan.

Know what you want before you house hunt

COVID-19 has changed how we live and work. We’re spending much more time at home, and people are looking for different features in their living spaces.

Make a list of your must-haves before you start house shopping—and share your needs with your real estate agent.

Simon Isaacs, broker and owner of Simon Isaacs Real Estate in Palm Beach, FL, says it helps cut down on the number of homes you’ll have to view before finding the right one.

“I would suggest buyers not look at 25 homes,” he says. “If the agent is showing them that many houses, the agent doesn’t know what they want.”

In such a competitive landscape, knowing exactly what you want enables you to act fast when you want to make an offer.

Tour homes virtually first

More real estate agents are embracing virtual tours and remote showings to ease coronavirus safety concerns. In some cases, they’re even limiting in-person showings to the most serious buyers—those with financing already secured, for example.

“Real estate agents in our local market are adjusting to the client’s needs by continuing to provide in-person showings with precautions and also assisting buyers virtually with their home purchases,” says Matt Curtis, owner of Matt Curtis Real Estate in Huntsville, AL.

Virtual home tours, using Zoom or FaceTime, let you view the home from anywhere, and depending on the setup, you might be able to ask questions in real time. So you can narrow down the homes you’re most interested in and physically visit only the ones that best meet your needs.

Don’t dawdle if you want to make an offer

In September, there were nearly 40% fewer homes on the market than during the same month last year, according to a realtor.com report. At the same time, buyer demand has increased, creating an incredibly competitive marketplace. Homes were on the market for an average of 54 days in September, 12 fewer days than last year.

Tracy Jones, a real estate agent with Re/Max Platinum Realty in Sarasota, FL, says the buyers she’s worked with lately have had just a few homes to consider. And, with all the other buyers in a location also looking at those same houses, you’ll need to act fast if you’re interested.

The challenge, she says, is potential buyers have little time to mull things over, and they are pitted against one another.

Isaacs is seeing a similar situation. Wait too long to submit an offer, and another buyer is likely to swoop in with an offer of their own.

“I would say don’t deliberate on buying,” he says. “I’ve had too many clients who were [saying], ‘Should we, shouldn’t we.’ I would say if it’s something that you want to do, do it.”

Make your offer stand out

Since inventory is so low, sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes these days. To make sure yours gets accepted, you’ll need to make it stand out.

Cash offers and inspection waivers are some ways to make your offer more appealing, Curtis says.

A cash offer, if you can afford it, is attractive to sellers because it eliminates dealing with a mortgage lender and often speeds up closings. An inspection waiver comes with lots of risks, since you’re essentially agreeing to purchase a home as is, but the waiver removes any repair negotiations and helps you close faster.

For competitive markets, where you know you’ll be competing directly with many buyers, Jones suggests talking to your agent about escalation clauses. This is a contract addendum where you agree to pay more than other offers (up to a maximum you set).

Bottom line: “Find a strategy to help make your offer stand out amongst the 10, 20, or more offers that may come in on your dream home,” Curtis says.

The post Bundle Up! Winter’s Home-Buying Game Has Changed. Here’s How To Win appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Plymouth Rock Assurance Review

Founded in 1982, Plymouth Rock Assurance provides a selection of property insurance and bodily injury insurance products to customers across the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire.

In this Plymouth Rock Assurance review, we’ll compare this provider to other regional and national insurance carriers, helping you find the best insurance policy for your needs.

Plymouth Rock Car Insurance Coverage

Plymouth Rock Assurance offers a host of car insurance coverage options, allowing you to meet the minimum requirements in your state and go above and beyond those requirements when needed,

Bodily Injury Coverage: Limited to a fixed amount of money per person and per accident, bodily injury insurance covers the harm done to other people in an accident. It is designed to help them with their medical bills and other payments resulting from an accident.

Property Damage Coverage: Also fixed to a specific sum, property damage insurance is designed to cover the other driver’s vehicle in an accident, as well as other property that you damage.

Collision Coverage: A type of insurance that covers you for damages done to your own car. With collision insurance, you will be covered regardless of who caused the accident and you’ll also get cover if the accident involves an obstacle (tree, guardrail, wall, fence) as opposed to another vehicle. You will not, however, be covered if you hit a deer. One of the quirks of this coverage option is that you’re only covered for animal collisions if you swerve and hit a wall/tree.

Comprehensive Coverage: With comprehensive coverage, you’re generally covered for the things that collision insurance can’t reach. It covers deer collisions and other accidents involving animal strikes and it also covers damage caused by weather and vandalism.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This coverage option works like bodily injury coverage, only instead of protecting the other driver and their passengers, it protects you, covering you for lost wages and medical bills.

Medical Payments: A type of insurance specifically designed to cover your medical bills. Unlike PIP, medical payments coverage will not give you money lost as a result of missed work.

Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage: When the other driver’s insurance cannot cover your claims, either because they don’t have enough or they don’t have any, uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance will step in.

Plymouth Rock Assurance Auto Insurance Features

Plymouth Rock Assurance has three different levels of auto insurance: Plus, Preferred, and Premier.  There are different coverage options available at each of these levels and you can upgrade if you feel that those options will serve you well.

Some of the features offered at these different levels, along with the additional coverage offered to all policyholders, include:

  • Door to Door Valet Claim Service: Plymouth Rock auto insurance customers can arrange for their cars to be picked up from their homes and taken to a nearby repair shop. Once it has been fixed, it will be returned at a time that is convenient to the policyholder.
  • Guaranteed Repairs: If performed at a listed repair shop, all repairs will be guaranteed by Plymouth Rock.
  • Comprehensive Claim Forgiveness: Plymouth Rock promises that your insurance premiums will not increase just because you make a claim about a stolen or weather-damaged vehicle.
  • Get Home Safe: If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel safe to drive home, Plymouth Rock will cover your taxi ride. This can happen one time per year as part of most Plymouth Rock car insurance policies.
  • Glass Coverage: Plymouth Rock offers several coverage options and policy features related to windshield repair and glass repair. This includes a $100 glass deductible and a waived glass deductible repair.
  • New Car Replacement: If you have a new car that gets totaled within a specific timeframe, Plymouth Rock will replace it completely.
  • Crashbusters: Plymouth Rock will send a Crashbusters team to your location at your request. They will assess the damage done to your vehicle and can help you to file a claim.
  • Pet Injury: In the event that your pet gets injured during a car accident, some Plymouth Rock policyholders can claim a small portion of the vet fees. After all, your dog or cat needs cover too!
  • Roadside Assistance: With the Plymouth Rock roadside assistance program, you’ll be covered for some of the services charged on broken down vehicles at the roadside, including towing, tire changes, fuel delivery, and more. 
  • Key Replacement: Lost your key? With the right cover from Plymouth Rock, you can get a replacement set.

Plymouth Rock Car Insurance Discounts

Plymouth Rock discounts differ from state to state and from user to user. The biggest of these are multi-policy discounts, which are offered when you purchase multiple policies, and prepay discounts, which are offered when you pay your insurance premiums upfront. 

Other available discounts include:

  • Paperless Filing: Go paperless and do your bit for the environment while helping to reduce waste and saving a few cents in the process.
  • Membership Organization Discounts: Make big savings when you are a member of specific organizations.
  • Senior Discount: Drivers above a certain age can apply.
  • Good Student Discount: Offered to young drivers who obtain at least a B average.
  • Safety Features and Anti-Theft Devices: If your car contains key features like trackers, alarms, airbags, seatbelts, and anti-lock brakes, these discounts will be available to you.
  • Driver Training: Complete driver training courses to prove your skills, show your commitment, and make some savings.
  • Low Mileage: Drive less and you could pay less.

Other Plymouth Rock Insurance Products

In addition to car insurance, the Plymouth Rock Assurance Corporation offers a wealth of insurance products. These are also confined to a very small part of the United States and include:

Home Insurance

Plymouth Rock offers comprehensive insurance quotes for all homeowners. These policies will cover you for the breakdown of key appliances, loss of personal items, identity theft protection, and even protection against hacks and cybercrime.

You can apply for Plymouth Rock home insurance directly if you live in New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

Renters Insurance

Renters insurance will cover you for personal losses in the home, as well as providing liability protection for anyone who gets injured in your home. Plymouth Rock renters insurance is available in the same states as Plymouth Rock home insurance.

Life Insurance

Plymouth Rock life insurance policies are only available in the state of New Jersey. Both term life insurance and variable life insurance policies are available, of which term life is arguably the better choice.

Policyholders can opt for a term of between 10 and 30 years, with the insurance premiums and payouts dependent on your age, health, medical history, and other key factors.

Umbrella Insurance

An umbrella insurance policy essentially increases your liability limits, going the extra mile to protect you. It is a supplemental insurance policy, designed to be added onto car insurance or homeowners insurance and to protect you and your family in the event that a claim is made against you.

Plymouth Rock Customer Satisfaction and Claims Satisfaction

Plymouth Rock has good ratings from customers and experts. It has an A- rating from AM Best, which isn’t the highest possible rating but is a great effort from a relatively small company (when compared to giants like GEICO and State Farm).

The insurance claims process is quick and easy, and while there are a number of bad reviews and complaints out there, Plymouth Rock seems committed to remedying these as quickly and completely as possible.

Furthermore, if you have a bad experience with Plymouth Rock, make your discontent clear and they will make a donation to a charity of your choice. This proves that Plymouth Rock is committed to keeping customers happy and willing to do whatever it takes.

Bottom Line: Car Insurance in New England

Plymouth Rock is a very highly-rated insurance company offering a selection of products directly and through insurance agents. It has accident forgiveness and claims forgiveness; offers a multitude of ways to pay your premiums, and the support team is available around the clock. 

If you reside in one of the states where Plymouth Rock operates, visit PlymouthRock.com, get a quote, and start comparing. If not, don’t worry, as there are many other great insurance company reviews to check out, including The General, Progressive, and Esurance.

Plymouth Rock Assurance Review is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

VA Loan Myths

Because of their complexity relative to other mortgage programs, VA loans are the subject of plenty of different myths. Some of these myths are based on truths, but what you hear can end up being very misleading, and it could be entirely untrue.

If you were to take these myths at face value without doing your own research, you might miss out on one of the best mortgage products available. Here’s the truth to some of the biggest myths surrounding VA loans:

Click to check today’s VA rates.

Myth #1: VA loans can only be used once

Because of how useful VA loans can be, some people believe they’re too good to be true. The myth VA loans can only be used once is completely false, but it’s easy to see where this mistaken idea might have come from. If you currently have a VA loan, you are not eligible for a second one.

However, this doesn’t mean you aren’t eligible for a second VA loan ever again.

Once you pay off your current VA loan, you’re eligible to use the program again. There are some small differences after the first time, such as a slightly higher cost at closing. But aside from the small differences, your second VA loan will be similar to the first one that you paid off.

Myth #2: VA members are guaranteed a mortgage

Nobody is guaranteed any type of mortgage, regardless of which mortgage program they’re applying for or whether they’re veterans. You must be approved for a mortgage, which means — depending on which program you choose — meeting credit requirements and having a specific debt-to-income ratio, among other factors.

When a lender says a VA loan is “guaranteed,” they mean the VA backs the loan. The VA guarantee is there to tell veterans they can get a mortgage with no required down payment, competitive mortgage rates and other benefits.

You can learn more about what “guaranteed” means here.

Myth #3: VA appraisals are impossible to pass

It is true that VA appraisals can be stricter than an appraisal with a different mortgage type. But that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to pass, and many VA home buyers don’t have any trouble with the VA appraisal at all. Because the VA is backing the home, they want to confirm it’s in good and livable condition before they approve any type of loan.

If you are applying for a VA loan and want to have a quick, speedy appraisal process, check here for some tips on how to pass the appraisal.

Check your VA eligibility.

Myth #4: Today’s home prices require a higher down payment

There’s no denying home prices have increased over the past decade. This has made homes harder to afford for many would-be home buyers, since down payments are usually used to lower the costs of monthly payments. The higher the downpayment, the lower the monthly payments.

Here’s the truth: with a VA loan, you don’t need to make a down payment and you can still afford a house. The key to buying an affordable home isn’t the size of the down payment, but finding a home within your means.

Many VA members purchase a home without a large down payment. In March, the average down payment for a VA loan was just two percent – below the minimum 3.5% required by FHA loans, and much lower than the traditional 20%.

While a larger down payment will lower your monthly costs, you probably don’t need to make a larger downpayment to be eligible for a VA loan.

Myth #5: VA loans take forever

When comparing FHA loans, conventional loans and VA loans, VA loans are typically the slowest program. According to mortgage software giant Ellie Mae’s October 2020 Origination Report, VA loans took an average of 54 days to close.

By comparison, FHA loans took 52 days to close, and conventional loans took an average of 54 days as well.

So yes, a VA loan is likely going to take longer to close than another program. However, a difference of 2-3 days is small when you consider how much lower VA rates are.

VA loans are slower than other mortgage types, but they do not take forever.

Click to start the VA home buying process.

Myth #6: Surviving spouses don’t qualify for VA mortgages

Actually, many spouses of veterans can qualify for a VA home loan.

Generally, the spouse must be un-remarried and the veteran must have died during service or from service-connected causes. But there are exceptions and other ways a surviving spouse can be eligible.

And, surviving spouses are exempt from paying the VA funding fee. To confirm your eligibility, your VA loan officer will request your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) and verify that it has Entitlement Code 06.

Myth #7: All realtors are good VA home loan advisors

There is no VA loan certification for real estate agents. As a result, you shouldn’t look to your real estate agent for reliable information about VA loans. And an underinformed real estate agent can unintentionally push VA-eligible borrowers towards programs that might be less advantageous for them.

Instead, you should get your VA loan facts from a VA specialty lender whose primary product is VA-backed loans.

The VA loan facts are hard to beat

The proliferation of myths about VA loans can obscure the fact this is simply one of the best loan products available to aspiring home buyers.

The VA loan rates available to eligible buyers — combined with the low down payments — are hard to beat with a conventional or FHA loan. But with a little research and a well-informed VA lender, you could be on your way to a VA home loan.

Click to check today’s VA rates.

Source: militaryvaloan.com

Say Farewell to Shag Carpet—Family Tackles 1970s Time Capsule Makeover

Jacksons Time CapsuleDustin McKibben

A Florida family has embarked on a wild ride to bring a 1970s time capsule in Indiana into the 21st century.

On a whim, they bought a vintage gem in Fort Wayne, IN, covered top to bottom in shag carpet, after seeing it online. It was our most popular home of the week in early December and garnered hundreds of thousands of views—the Jackson family among them.

How the time capsule was won

“So we weren’t actually looking for a home to buy,” says Alysha Jackson, who lives in Clermont, FL, with her husband, Nate, two toddlers, and a rescue dog, Ingrid.

“We have a home there and we love it,” she says. “We had talked about getting into real estate one day, but it wasn’t really on our radar yet. Then this house went viral.”

Nate saw the house online and came in with his computer to show the listing to Alysha.

“He’s like, ‘Hey, don’t shut this down right away, but what if we put in an offer on this house?’” she says.

“Usually, I’m the skeptical one, but I just looked at it and had this gut feeling, and I said, ‘You know what? I actually love it. Let’s put in an offer.’”

Interior of home in Fort Wayne, IN

Dustin McKibben

Interior

Dustin McKibben

Bathroom

Dustin McKibben

Like everyone who laid eyes on the photos, Nate and Alysha first spotted the colorful carpet. The deep shag is hard to miss: It’s everywhere, even on some of the walls.

Alysha says her first reaction was: “Whoa, that’s a lot of shag carpet!” Then, she noticed how much potential the house had.

“I kind of envisioned what it could look like with some renovating,” she says. “We’re staying thing true to the vibe of it and the time period, but we have to update it.”

Aftermath of Christmas

Jackson family

Door

Dustin McKibben

Jackson family

Dustin McKibben

The Jacksons journey back in time

Just a few weeks after putting in their offer, the two former teachers, who now sell on Amazon, packed up their family minivan (including Christmas presents) and headed north. Their work offers them the freedom to work where they choose.

Since then, the family has been living bare-bones in the house, with just a few mattresses and other essential items. They have decided to live in the home as is for a while.

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Watch: Listing Agents Answer Our Burning Questions About the ‘Silence of the Lambs’ House

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“We wanted to just stay in it a little while before changing anything, because we just wanted to get a feel for the house before we just came in and made sweeping changes,” Alysha Jackson explains.

“I’m so glad we did, because we actually changed a lot of our designs based upon actually living in the home for a little bit first.”

Most importantly, they staged a 1970s-style photo shoot.

Interior

Dustin McKibben

Enjoying the view

Jackson family

Even Ingrid, the dog, seems to have settled in.

“She has a spot in the house where she can see the entire yard, thanks to the surrounding sliding doors and windows,” Jackson says.

“Ingrid was so sad when she saw us packing the van for our trip here, but literally jumped up and down when we got the leash out and she realized she was coming with us on the trip.”

Kitchen

Dustin McKibben

Kitchen

Dustin McKibben

Kitchen

Dustin McKibben

The former owner of the house, James Sherbondy, a retired architect, designed the home as his family’s personal residence. It was occupied until just a few months ago, so everything inside was in working order.

“We walked in, brought in our stuff, and used the fridge. The bathrooms were functional. It was pretty great,” Jackson says.

Everything in the kitchen works, and the cabinets are in good shape. However, the layout may not work for the family, she adds.

Lower level

Dustin McKibben

Lower level

Dustin McKibben

Lower-level bathroom

Dustin McKibben

Lower-level bathroom

Dustin McKibben

The family made some immediate changes for safety reasons and are currently living on the lower level. They’re tackling that and the main level first, and leaving the upstairs master bedroom and bathroom for last.

A bathroom with green counters and blue sink will ultimately meet its demise, but the Jack-and-Jill style entry is staying.

“The more we see, the more we want to keep, which is kind of funny,” Alysha says. “Before, we didn’t really know too much about ’70s style, and we didn’t know too much about midcentury modern even. But the more I talk with people and more research I do on my own, the more I see the beauty and the value in it, and so I want to keep that style in the home.”

Stairs

Dustin McKibben

Toddler-proof stairs

Dustin McKibben

The Jacksons have sought input from a number of experts on the Instagram account they started for their rehab project. They had hopes of reaching 10,000 followers by the summer. As of now, they’ve blown past their goal and have over 30,000 folks tracking the renovation journey.

“I just love sharing projects with people. When we did a ’70s photo shoot, we thought it would be really fun to share these. We had no idea it would go viral as quickly as it did,” Jackson says. “It’s been really fun to share what we’re doing with people, and we’ve gotten so much great input.”

Lower level

Dustin McKibben

Lower level

Dustin McKibben

The carpet can’t stay

Sadly, for lovers of colorful floor coverings, the carpet is one of the first things that’s going to go.

“There’s literally carpet in every single room, including the bathrooms. It’s everywhere and it’s 50 years old. From what we know, it is original to the home,” Jackson says.

She added that there are stains in several places, and it doesn’t smell particularly great, especially in the bathrooms.

Eventually, there will be new flooring in many of the rooms and tile in the bathrooms. But the carpet won’t vanish completely.

“I am going to be making an art piece of the different carpet colors,” she says. “There’s about four or five different colors in the home, and we just want to keep a piece of each. I’m going to cut some out from each color—deep-clean it, of course—and then create some sort of art piece with it to hang in the house on the wall.”

Master bathroom

Dustin McKibben

Master bathroom

Dustin McKibben

People on social media had a lot to say about the carpet-bedecked bathtub in the master bedroom. The tub has purple tile and no curtain. For now, it’s the only bathtub in the house, so the kids need to take their baths there.

Jackson says the tub is super clean, but the trick for the couple is to keep the children from enjoying their time on the floor.

“To them, it’s like a big towel,” she adds. The first time their son took a bath, she says, “He got out of the tub and started rolling on the shag carpet.”

Fireplace

Other modifications on the way

Back on the main level, the dramatic floor-to-ceiling fireplace will stay—but with some modifications for safety.

Wood paneling and accents

Dustin McKibben

Some of the wood paneling and carved accents throughout the house will also remain.

“I stare at the wood every day. I think that’s maybe my favorite part of the house,” Jackson says.

Some people on Instagram say the carved wood might be by an artist named Ackerman, and the Jacksons are trying to verify that.

“It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the home on the door,” Alysha says.

Work time

Jackson family

Life outside the box

The Jacksons rehabbed their Florida house, so a huge project isn’t entirely new for them and they have some family support nearby. Both Alysha and Nate are from Indiana, and much of their family still lives there. While some close to them were surprised by the somewhat impulsive purchase, they weren’t shocked.

“We kind of joke with people that Nate and I are ‘Go big or go home’ people. We kind of live life outside the box, so they were excited for us,” Jackson says.

Some relatives thought they were crazy, she adds, but changed their minds when they saw how beautiful the home is—and they’re especially excited that the family will be closer to them.

For now, the family plans to split time between the two homes and rent the other one as a vacation rental.

We’ll be tracking the process of this time capsule transformation and can’t wait to see what’s next.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Alysha and Nate Jackson (@thejacksonfi)

The post Say Farewell to Shag Carpet—Family Tackles 1970s Time Capsule Makeover appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?

long-term care can help you or a loved one live comfortably well into their Golden Years

A 55-year-old can expect to pay a long-term care insurance premium of $2,050 per year on average, according to a 2019 price index survey of leading insurers conducted by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTC). That will cover $164,000 in benefits when the policyholder takes out the insurance and $386,500 at age 85. (Policies often include an inflation rider.) However, long-term care insurance costs vary widely, depending on factors like your age, health condition and the specific policies of your insurance carrier. The AALTC estimates that a single 55-year-old can pay around $1,325 to $2,550 a year for a policy. That’s why it’s important to shop around to find the best rates and terms. You should also speak with a financial advisor who can help you plan the future.

How Much Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?

The AALTC provides the following estimates of annual premiums based on its 2019 study of different long-term care insurance carriers.

Annual Premium Estimates Status Age Premium Single Male 55 $2,050 Single Female 55 $2,700 Couple 55 $3,050 (Combined cost)

Keep in mind, though, that these are only averages based on a pool of data gathered from leading insurance carriers. The costs of long-term care insurance can vary widely,  depending on several key factors. We explore some of these below.

Health: Some medical conditions will disqualify you from even being able to purchase a policy, including muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis and dementia. That’s because insurers will likely lose money on those policies. Generally, the healthier you are, the less likely you’ll ever need to file a claim – and so the lower your premium.

Age: In general, you’ll pay more in long-term care insurance if you take out a policy when you’re older, since you’re probably less healthy and you’re closer to needing the assistance the policy covers. This is why the AALTCI recommends you begin shopping for long-term care insurance between the ages of 52 of 64.

Marital status: When combined, premiums tend to be lower for married couples than they would be for individuals paying for a personal policy.

Gender: Because women tend to live longer than men and make claims more frequently than their male counter parts, women tend to pay more for insurance premiums. The AALTCI study showed that a single female pays an annual premium of $3,050 on average while the single man that age paid $2,050.

Carrier policies: Each insurance carrier sets its own rates and underwriting standards. In fact, costs for the same services can vary widely from one company to another. This is why you should gather quotes from various carriers. You can also work with an experienced long-term care insurance agent who can gather these for you and help you understand the differences between insurance policies. They can also help you determine the kind of coverage you’re likely to need, so you don’t over-insure.

Should I Get Long-Term Care Insurance?

Long-term care costs can climb high, so you'd want to start saving now.

The average 65-year-old today has a 70% chance of needing some kind of long-term care eventually, according to the Urban Institute and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of those who need it, most would use it for about two years, but around 20% would require it for more than five years.

The smart money, then, would prepare for this significant cost. To give you a sense of how much bills can run, below are the estimated annual costs of different types of long-term care services, according to Genworth Financial, which has been tracking them since 2004.

Estimated Annual Costs Type of Services Price Private room nursing home $102,000 Assisted living facility $48,612 Home care aide $52,624 Home care homemaker $51,480

What’s more, costs have been rising faster than even inflation. Genworth found that the average cost of home-care services increased about $892 annually each year between 2004 and 2019. The average cost for a private room in a nursing home jumped by about $2,468 each year during the same time period, currently putting the average cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home at $89,297 per year. As noted before, about 20% of Americans will require more than five years of care.

Unfortunately, with these costs, many retirement nest eggs will come up short. And contrary to popular belief, Medicare covers only limited medical costs, e.g., brief nursing home stays and narrow amounts of skilled nursing or rehabilitation services. The scope for Medicaid is even smaller. On average, it covers about 22 days of home care services if you meet very low income thresholds.

Of course, there’s no way of knowing how much long-term care coverage you’ll need. But knowing what long-term care insurance does and doesn’t cover is key to making sure you’re not over- or under-protected.

What Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cover?

Long-term health insurance typically covers services not provided for by regular health insurance. This can include assistance with completing daily tasks like eating, bathing and moving around. In the industry, these are known as activities of daily living (ADLs). Long-term care insurance policies generally would reimburse you for these services in such locations as:

  • Your home
  • Adult day care center
  • Assisted living facility
  • Nursing home

Some policies also cover care related to chronic medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders.

But keep in mind that these are generalizations. There is no industry standard that sets ADL requirements for claim eligibility or what kinds of illnesses long-term care insurance will cover. Each insurance carrier makes its own rules.

So it’s essential to understand when coverage kicks in – and for how long. Policies used to provide coverage for life, but now most cap benefits at one to five years. If possible, some experts recommend extending the initial period when you are not compensated for costs (it’s often 90 days) in exchange for a longer period on the other end of receiving benefits. You also will want to know how premiums may increase over time and whether the cap on benefits will, too. Some carriers allow you to place an inflation rider that increases your daily benefit every year. That increase can be up to 3%.

How Does Long-Term Care Insurance Work?

After you apply for long-term care insurance, the insurer may request your medical records and ask you some questions about your health. You can choose the type of coverage you want, but the insurer must approve you.

When the company issues you a policy, you begin paying premiums every year. Once you qualify for benefits, which is often defined by not being able to perform a set number of ADLs, and the required waiting period has passed, you can file a claim. The insurance company then reviews your submitted medical records and may send a nurse to perform an evaluation before approving a payout. Once approved, you will be reimbursed for paid services, up to the cap on your policy.

Ideally, you’ll stay healthy and your long-term care needs will be minimal. Though your premiums will add up over time, this is one situation where you hope not to get your money’s worth. On the bright side, to lessen the hit to your wallet, the government may give you a tax break.

Tax Relief for Long-Term Care Premiums

If you don't lock in your long term care insurance cost when you are relatively healthy, it will only rise as you age and your health declines.

Some or all of the long-term care premiums you pay may be tax deductible at the federal and state level. But you must make these payments toward a tax-qualified insurance policy. Also, you must meet certain income thresholds.

Maximum Deductible Premium

Age Maximum Deduction 40 or under $420 41 to 50 $790 51 to 60 $1,580 61 to 70 $4,220 71 and over $5,220 How to Buy Long-Term Care Insurance

You can purchase long-term care insurance directly from carriers or through a sales agent. The agent can help you shop around for comparable rates. This professional can also help you understand how different policies work and what they offer.

Also, you may be able to get long-term care insurance through your employer. Some allow you to purchase policies at discounted group rates. However, you should get quotes from multiple insurance companies. In some cases, you may find better rates for more suitable policies that aren’t through your employer.

How to Calculate Your Long-Term Care Insurance Costs

Some websites such as Genworth Financial provide interactive calculators that can estimate what long-term care premiums may be like in your area. Prices and policies can vary, depending on the state.

Tips on Paying for Long-Term Care 

  • If you have a health savings account (HSA), you may want to start socking away more money in it for long-term care. Also called health IRAs, these plans allow your money to grow tax deferred. (But you have to have a high-deductible health plan to open an HSA). To find out more, check out our report on the best HSAs.
  • Don’t go it alone. A financial advisor can help you devise an insurance plan and figure out how you’re going to pay for it. If you are in the market to buy insurance now, some advisors are also licensed insurance agents. Use our matching tool to find the right advisor for you.

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