Combos likely to bolster long-term care?

We have blogged before about the future of long-term care (LTC). A recent article in Employee Benefit Adviser picks up the conversation. Here is an excerpt:

[S]tandalone LTC insurance sales have been in a funk lately. According to LIMRA, “Significant declines in individual LTCI sales continued through the third quarter of 2009, with 28% fewer buyers when compared with the first nine months of 2008 and a 29% decline in new premium.” Indeed, 2005, 2006 and 2008 were also down years, while 2007 was flat.Why have sales of individual LTC insurance been slowing? Many observers cite the “use it or lose it” aspect of LTC policies; consumers might pay premiums for years – even decades – and never file a claim. Some potential buyers may be put off by the idea of “wasting” the money spent on LTC insurance premiums, says Carl Friedrich, a consulting actuary and principal in the Lake Forest, Ill., office of Milliman.

LIMRA puts the average annual premium at about $2,160. Even with some discounts, a married couple might be looking at an outlay of around $4,000 per year to buy coverage. Many individuals and couples probably tell themselves that they have other alternatives (sell a house, tap a portfolio, rely on a relative) to spending so much money to protect against a financial drain that might never occur.

Hence the appeal of combo products. If clients need coverage for long-term care, they have it. If their need for custodial care is modest or nonexistent, the money they spent on life insurance or annuity premiums will provide a payoff for them or their beneficiaries.

For more on Carl Friedrich’s perspective on combo products, read this article.