The 5 Best Long-Term Care Insurance of 2020

Coverage to get the best care needed when you’re older

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Making it to age 65 is a major milestone. It's also a time at which you'll have about a 50% chance of needing long-term care (LTC) at some point in your near future. That could end up being a major expense without insurance to help cover the cost.

When paying out of pocket, the average American spends a sizable $140,000 on LTC. Insurance premiums, on the other hand, cost about $2,700 on average per year. Consider that expense over 20 to 30 years, which adds up to a much lower $54,000 to $81,000.

While Medicare covers medical expenses, it won't pay for the cost of staying in a long-term care facility or having someone help with day-to-day activities like eating meals or getting dressed. Private health insurance is also unlikely to cover any associated LTC costs. That's why many should consider investing in long-term care insurance to help pay for the cost of nursing homes, adult daycare, and home health care.

With this list, we've done the homework and investigated 20 companies to help you find the right insurance carrier. We have considered each company's history and ratings, the types of coverage offered, specific policies, pricing, and what types of discounts are available—all important factors for anyone shopping around for long-term care insurance.


The 5 Best Long-Term Care Insurance of 2020

Best Overall: New York Life

New York Life

 New York Life

New York Life is an obvious choice for best overall for its long-standing history, top financial strength ratings, and choice of plans that offer protection against inflation, flexibility for type of care (whether in home, at a facility, or offered by a family member), and a small death benefit even in the event that total coverage is used. There is even a money-back guarantee in the event that no LTC is needed.

Pros
  • In business since 1845

  • Money-back guarantee if no long-term care is needed

  • Traditional long-term care coverage and combination LTC and life insurance offered

Cons
  • Online quotes are not available; customers must contact a financial professional through the company for a quote

Founded in 1845, New York Life is one of the top-rated long-term care insurance providers in terms of overall financial strength. It has received the highest ratings for financial strength by the top ratings services, including an A++ from AM Best. It wins our nod for overall best due to this strength and an innovative long-term care and life insurance policy.

Named one of the best life insurance companies of 2020 by our team at Investopedia, New York Life offers two types of long-term care insurance. Its combination long-term care insurance plan offers—as the name suggests—a combination of long-term care (if needed) or a larger life insurance benefit. Long-term care coverage is offered for the expenses related to a range of choices, including care from a facility, care at home, or care from a family member. 

Even in the event that the total coverage is spent, family members will still receive a small death benefit. In the event that no long-term care is needed, there's also money-back guarantee. Extra features include fixed premiums that will never increase. The company's traditional long-term care insurance plan is a better choice for those who want to get the most long-term care coverage per dollar, the broadest range of options of care, and protection for your assets and income during retirement.  

When selecting a plan with New York Life, customers can choose the facility's maximum daily benefit—between $50 to $400 per day. Covered facilities include nursing facilities and assisted care living facilities. There's also a choice of benefit periods from two years to seven years. For home and community-based care, customers can choose from 50% to 100% daily coverage. Lastly, customers can select their specific waiting period—the time individuals will have to pay for services out of pocket before coverage kicks in—with a choice between 90 or 180 days of waiting. Additional riders are available at an extra cost.

In a sample online quote for the company's traditional long-term care insurance plan, a married 55-year-old male can expect to pay $24.93 per month for a maximum lifetime benefit of $50,000 or $119.45 per month for the highest amount of coverage, a $250,000 maximum lifetime benefit.

Best for Discounts: Mutual of Omaha

Mutual of Omaha

 Mutual of Omaha

With three types of discounts offered (the potential for up to 30% in savings), Mutual of Omaha is our top pick for those looking for discounts on their long-term care policy.

Pros
  • Three types of premium discounts available

  • In business since 1909

  • AM Best rating of A+ Superior for financial strength

Cons
  • Inflation protection and refunds of premiums are available at an extra cost

Founded in 1909 and with an AM Best rating of A+ (Superior), Mutual of Omaha offers one long-term care base plan. It has built-in features that can be customized as needed. As part of the standard plan, customers can get:

  • Cash benefits instead of being reimbursed for actual costs
  • Access to a care coordinator who can assess your needs, develop an individual care plan, and arrange services as needed
  • Waiver of premium, which means customers don't have to pay for their monthly premiums while receiving LTC
  • Coverage for alternative care that may not yet exist

Additional benefits are available for an extra cost, such as inflation protection, shared care (allowing partners to share benefits if needed), and a return of premium for any benefits not used.

A married 60-year-old female can expect to pay between $74 and $145 per month for $2,100 to $4,100 in monthly benefit amounts, while a married 70-year-old female can expect to pay between about $122 and $238 for the same coverage amounts. A married 75-year-old female can expect to pay between about $159 and $311 monthly. 

The company stands out with its two discounts that benefit couples whether legally married, in a domestic partnership, or otherwise in a serious, committed personal relationship with a shared residence for the past three years or more. Couples, where both partners sign up for Mutual of Omaha, can receive 30% off their policies. In situations where only one partner of a long-term relationship has a policy with the company, a 15% discount applies. There's a third discount available to customers for being in good health regardless of their relationship status; eligible customers can save 15% from their bill.

Best for No Waiting Period: Lincoln Financial Group

Lincoln Financial Group

 Lincoln Financial Group

Waiting periods can add up to extra out-of-pocket expenses, right when you're looking for financial relief. Lincoln Financial Group is the only company on this list that offers plans (two in fact) with no elimination period for all covered services, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The only other company on this list that offers a no-waiting period plan, Pacific Life, does so with many exceptions.

Pros
  • Founded in 1905

  • A+ Superior AM Best rating

  • No waiting/elimination period

  • International benefits available for those living abroad

Cons
  • Online quotes are not available; customers must contact a financial professional through the company for a quote

In business since 1905, Lincoln Financial Group has earned an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best and is the number-four life and health insurer in the nation in terms of annual revenue.

The company rises above the competition and is best in our review for no-waiting period plans. These are its MoneyGuard II and MoneyGuard III policies, both of which offer zero-day elimination periods for accessing coverage for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Other companies on this list require a minimum of 90 days before granting coverage for such services.

With MoneyGuard II, a universal life insurance plan with an optional long-term care benefit rider, premiums are locked in from the start. Customers can get tax-free reimbursements for qualifying LTC costs, and there's no deductible or waiting period. If you don't end up needing LTC, your dependents will receive a tax-free death benefit or you can get a 100% return of your premiums after six years.

Some of the key features of the company's other no-elimination-period plan, MoneyGuard III, include no medical exams or lab tests required for underwriting, a couple's discount, choice of a range of inflation protection options, and a death benefit ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. The company's terminal illness rider allows for a one-time claim of 25% to 75% of the death benefit up to $250,000 in the event of a terminally life-threatening condition. 

Best for Flexible Options: Pacific Life

Pacific Life

 Pacific Life

There's no way to know whether you'll need long-term care or not. And if you do need it, will it be in a facility or in your home, in the U.S. or abroad? Of all the long-term care insurance plans available on the market, Pacific Life's PremierCare Advantage policy offers some of the greatest flexibility. It accounts for a range of different potential possibilities, with choices for benefit periods, inflation rates, and monthly maximum benefits.

Pros
  • Operating since 1868

  • An A+ Superior rating from AM Best

  • Flexible policy that offers long-term care, life insurance, or the option for a refund

Cons
  • Online quotes are not available; customers must contact a financial professional through the company for a quote

Offering a unique universal life insurance policy with long-term care benefits, Pacific Life has been doing this since 1868 and enjoys an A+ (Superior) rating from AM Best.

Pacific Life offers one plan, its PremierCare Advantage policy, with three flexible options: 

  • Coverage in the event that long-term care is needed
  • Death benefits to loved ones (minus the cost of any long-term care or terminal illness benefit)
  • Money-back refund (also minus the cost of any long-term care or terminal illness benefit)

Customers can expect to find a range of flexible options above and beyond the competition, helping make Pacific Life our choice as best for flexible options. In addition to choosing your plan's premium amount, you'll be able to pick from a broader range of benefit period lengths compared to other providers (between two years and eight years) and inflation choices (5% compound interest, 5% simple interest, or 3% simple interest). 

The company's terminal illness benefit means customers can access $250,000 or 75% of the policy's amount if diagnosed with 12 months or fewer to live.

And, other than Lincoln Financial Group, this is the only other company that offers a zero-day elimination period. With Pacific Life's plan, this is only available for select care, including home care and adult daycare. Otherwise, 90-day waiting applies to nursing home and residential care facilities. A coordinator is available at no extra cost.

Best for Easy Benefits Payout: Brighthouse Financial

Brighthouse Financial

 Brighthouse Financial

While many plans provide coverage in the form of reimbursements, that's not the case with Brighthouse Financial's SmartCare plan. It's a hybrid universal life insurance policy with long-term care benefits. Once customers are eligible to receive benefits, they can receive their maximum amount of available benefit dollars, no matter how much their care costs. No receipts needed.

Pros
  • Over two million customers

  • An A rating from AM Best

  • No need to track expenses or save receipts to get benefits for LTC

Cons
  • Online quotes are not available; customers must contact a financial professional through the company for a quote

Dating back to 1863, originally as part of Travelers Insurance Company, Brighthouse Financial has over two million customers and an A rating from AM Best. The company's hybrid life insurance and long-term care insurance plan offers customers LTC coverage if needed or dependents can receive a payout. A unique feature of this plan is the option to link it to the market indices—giving customers the chance to grow LTC benefits, with built-in protection during economic downturns and the option to lock in the value at any time. 

Because the plan doesn't require customers to provide receipts or track expenses, this is a no-hassle option for receiving benefit payments which is why it gets our nod as best for easy benefits payout. Customers can also take a loan against the policy at any time and surrender the policy for its full cash value at any time. 

Brighthouse Financial also offers a guaranteed death benefit and terminal illness benefit, with a payout of 50% of the policy's value capped at $250,000. As with many other plans, there is an elimination period. In this case, it is a 90-day wait time. No labs or exams are required for customers ages 40 to 75, and no medical records are required for those 40 to 65, except in the event of a significant medical condition.

What Is Long-Term Care Insurance?

Long-term care (LTC) insurance is a policy that can help cover the expenses associated with long-term care, such as stays in nursing home facilities or home health care provided by a professional. The costs of long-term care can add up. On the high end, nursing facilities charge up to $80,000 annually (or more), and on the lower end, families can expect to pay about $9,000 annually for in-home care offered three times a week. 

That's why people choose to invest in long-term care insurance, which can help cover some of these costs, usually up to a specific dollar amount per day spent in a nursing facility or a portion of each in-home visit. While Medicare covers the cost of medical services provided by long-term care facilities like nursing homes, it does not cover the cost of staying in them—or the cost of in-home help for daily activities like bathing or getting dressed.

What Does Long-Term Care Insurance Cost?

LTC premiums average about $2,700 annually, or $225 per month, a cost that many may not be able to afford. Age, location, plan features, and maximum benefit selections are all factors that can affect the overall cost. According to the sample online quote from New York Life, on the low end, a married 55-year-old male can expect to pay $24.93 per month for a maximum lifetime benefit of $50,000 or $119.45 per month for the highest amount of coverage, a $250,000 maximum lifetime benefit.

These costs increase with age, as seen with online quotes from Mutual of Omaha. A married 60-year-old female will pay $74 and $145 per month for $2,100 to $4,100 in monthly benefit amounts, which jumps to $122 and $238 for the same coverage amounts for a married 70-year-old female and $159 and $311 for a married 75-year-old female.

Is Long-Term Care Insurance Worth It?

Long-term care is historically expensive, which is why people avoid buying it. Some may have savings or home equity to pay out of pocket for the expenses associated with long-term care. Others may be able to keep costs to a minimum by being looked after for free by loved ones. Medicaid is an option, but only for those with $2,000 or less in cash or other assets (outside of a home or car). Yet for many without these options, LTC insurance is a way to reduce the costs of potential long-term care.

When Should I Buy Long-Term Care Insurance?

Due to the cost of premiums, people often put off investing in long-term care insurance for as long as possible. There's a tradeoff between avoiding (or paying) the expense over many years and locking in lower rates, which are usually cheaper the younger you buy it. Experts recommend looking for insurance between the ages of 45 and 55 to balance these factors.

How We Chose the Long-Term Care Insurance Companies

We reviewed 20 insurance companies and insurance marketplaces, as well as several review websites, before selecting these top providers of long-term care plans. Among the most important factors we considered were each insurer's history, financial strength ratings, types of plans offered, specific policy features, pricing, and the kinds of discounts available. These are all critical factors for potential customers searching for LTC insurance options.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
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  2. AARP. "5 Things You SHOULD Know About Long-Term Care Insurance." Accessed June 27, 2020.

  3. Insurance Information Institute. "Should I buy long-term care insurance?" Accessed June 28, 2020.

  4. Investopedia. "Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance." Accessed June 27, 2020.

  5. AARP. "Does Medicare Pay for Nursing Homes?" Accessed June 27, 2020.