If you are married or in a “committed relationship” (defined in different terms by different insurers, e.g., a “certified domestic partnership”), you may receive a discount on your premium if only you apply for coverage, or a larger discount if you both apply at the same time. The availability of such discounts vary depending on whether you are applying for a traditional or for a hybrid policy, or for a life policy with a critical illness rider.
If you are considering a traditional long-term care policy, be sure to consider the availability of a Shared Care rider. Shared Care is a very economical and tactically useful benefit. Shared Care is not available with hybrid products. You must both apply for your policies at the same time and have identical basic benefits in order to be able to include a provision for Shared Care in your policies.
With this benefit option, you could indeed get more than your basic benefit on claim. Consider, for example, the $300,000 pool of money described in What Am I Buying? If you and your partner individually applied for such a benefit, and you each included Shared Care on your applications, one of you could have access to up to $600,000 in the event of a claim.
Shared Care, in its most basic form, allows one insured, should he or she exhaust their own policy’s benefits, to access the unused benefits of their partner. Upon the death of one partner with unused benefit remaining, that benefit may transfer to the survivor without added cost.
Note, however, that there are differences between companies in how they structure their Shared Care benefit provisions. One may require, for example, that a year’s worth of a spouse’s benefit be left for the healthy spouse. For example, if each of you have a basic 5 year maximum benefit period with a $300,000 pool of money, and you exhausted your $300,000 pool on claim, you could access up to $240,000 (at $5,000 a month for 48 additional months) of your spouse’s unused benefit pool.
A different company may structure its Shared Care benefit to allow full access to the healthy spouse’s available benefit pool.
Joint Waiver of Premium and Survivorship benefits are two other options available with traditional long-term care policies that you may want to consider. The first waives the premiums for both of you if one of you is on claim, and the other, typically after the policies have been in force for a number of years without a claim, waives the premium of the survivor for life should one of you pass away.