Women thinking of buying long-term-care insurance should shop around sooner rather than later. Genworth in the coming months will become the first major long-term-care insurance provider to implement gender-specific pricing, and other carriers are likely to quickly follow suit.
Since women live longer and account for roughly two-thirds of long-term-care insurance claims, gender-specific pricing means that women applying for policies individually will pay significantly higher rates than men buying equivalent coverage. "Women have far greater need and are far more likely to use the benefits" of long-term-care insurance, says Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, an industry group. Now, he says, "the window is closing" for them to take advantage of current unisex rates for these policies.
The Genworth product, Privileged Choice Flex 2, is set to launch in April. Consumers will likely see other major carriers follow over the spring and summer. Single women should expect to pay roughly 20% to 40% more than single men for equivalent coverage, Slome says. Only two states, Montana and Colorado, prohibit gender-specific pricing.
The shift comes amid a broader trend of long-term-care insurance premium increases. "This change is being made now to reflect our actual claims experience and help stabilize pricing," Genworth spokesman Tom Topinka said in an e-mail, noting that two out of three current claim dollars are paid to women.
Genworth says its pricing change will affect only the 10% of applicants who are individual women. But Slome expects gender-specific pricing by other companies could affect couples applying together as well.
Comparison shop before choosing a policy. In 2012, the most expensive policy for a 55-year-old single applicant cost almost 80% more than the cheapest policy, according to the industry trade group. Work with an agent who offers policies from many different carriers. You can find an agent specializing in long-term care at www.aaltci.org.
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