Reader Mail: Do I Need This Insurance Policy?

Several years ago my mom got me a long term care insurance policy through her job. She paid for it and I never thought about it until a year or two ago money got tight for her and she handed me the bill and said I should start paying for it. I didn’t really want the insurance and I definitely didn’t want to pay for it but she kind of guilted/scared me into continuing to pay for it.

Over the last year I’ve had a lot of unexpected expenses and I have credit card debt I’m trying to pay down. I let the long term care insurance expire but I’m still feeling a little guilty. For reference, I’m 29, own a house and car (obviously I’m still making payments on the house and will be for many years) and have a full time job, plus babysitting on the side a couple times a month. The long term care insurance was about $400-$500 a year.

Do I need long term insurance coverage? Should I get a new plan once I have my finances in order? Also I’ve heard that some of them are semi-scams that don’t cover much or have restrictions on what they will cover. At this point it kind of seems crazy to put so much money into something that I may not use for 40 years or more. But then on the other hand I guess I could get in a car accident and be paralyzed tomorrow? — S.L.

Yes, you could get in a car accident and be paralyzed tomorrow. You could also die in a fire, or drown, or get cancer, or have a heart attack. We are human, we are not immortal, and our lives can change at any given moment.

Things happen to ourselves and our things—that’s why we get health insurance, renters or homeowners insurance, fire, flood and earthquake insurance, car insurance, life insurance, and all the other things out there we think fit to insure on top of all the other bills we have to pay.

The point I am trying to make is that there are a lot of things that we’re financially responsible for, and a lot of different insurance policies that are worth paying for because of the circumstances of the individual world we live in. In the individual world you live, S.L., is long term care insurance a priority?

While you think that over, I’m going to tell you now that you’re the first person under the age of 50 who I have ever heard of buying and maintaining a long term care insurance policy.

Long term care insurance typically covers basic daily care for you for an extended period of time, if say, you get Alzheimer’s disease, or have a chronic illness that requires a part or full-time nurse to bathe, dress and feed you on a daily basis at a hospital, or at home or at a nursing facility. Notice those terms I’ve used—Alzheimer’s and nursing facility—because they’re typically associated with the elderly, as is long term care insurance, because it’s more likely you’ll need to have it when you’re reaching the age of retirement. People typically decide to buy long term health insurance in their 50s, and by the age of 60. Buying it before then is atypical.

You are 29—do you know any other 29-year-olds with long term care insurance? That question doesn’t matter as much as: In your individual world, does long term care insurance make sense? Does your family have a history of developing chronic illnesses at an early age? Is that why your mother felt compelled to buy you a policy? If yes, then long term care insurance isn’t such a crazy thing to get at your age. And if yes, do sit down and read the policy over—you should definitely know what it does and doesn’t cover.

In my individual world, I got very sick when I was 18, so I have a 20-year-term life insurance policy that would ensure that my parents are financially taken care of if I were to die today. I pay for it because I can afford to shell out $35 a month—it is in no way a burden for me.

My folks have earthquake insurance, because they live in California, and an earthquake is a real thing that could happen in their individual world. We prioritize on what we should pay for based on our circumstances. You have nothing to feel guilty about if you decide not to pay for a thing that doesn’t make sense in your individual world.

 

See previous columns here. Photo: Shutterstock/Mandy Godbehear

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