Michael Pirron called John Hancock to ask about the care options covered by his parents’ insurance.“Their answer was, essentially, ‘What policy?’” he said. The policies had lapsed eight months earlier, and it was too late to send in the past due amount and get them reinstated.
Long-term care planning is prudent for unforeseen care expenses on down the road. Do you or an elderly loved one have a long-term care insurance policy? If yes, then you likely have some peace of mind. But what happens if you forget to pay the premiums?
Do I have your attention now? If yes, then you will want to read a recent horror story in The New York Times - The New Old Age Blog titled “The Policy Lapsed, but No One Knew.”
Generally speaking, any form of “insurance” exists to help minimize various financial risk exposures to the insured. In essence, you pay a premium you can afford (and the insurance company will accept) to cover a risk you cannot afford. Once insured, you really only need to think about the much easier task of remaining insured, which usually means making timely premium payments.
Unfortunately for some families, remaining insured can sometimes present a few challenges uniquely associated with old age itself. What happens when the loved one begins to develop dementia and simply stops making the premium payments on the policy? Dementia is rather subtle before it becomes fairly dramatic. Accordingly, you may need to implement some financial safety precautions.
The terrible lesson coming out of the original article is how the caregiver/son was diligent, but a mistake by his father at the bank snowballed into missed payments and a lapsed policy. The worst part of the horror story is that the cancellation notice from the insurer was never received - and the family was unaware of the policy lapse until they went to claim its benefits.
Ultimately, the burden of proof was not on the insurer regarding whether the premium notice had been sent and received.
Will there be a legislative reaction to stories like these? It seems this case will not go anywhere soon, but there may be more like it across the country.
For more information please visit my Orlando, FL estate planning and elder law website.
Reference: The New York Times – The New Old Age (January 31, 2014) “The Policy Lapsed, but No One Knew”