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      Long-Term Care Insurance: Getting Started

      If you decide to purchase long-term care insurance, here are a few tips that will help you research the companies that interest you.

      Ask your state's insurance department for a list of companies approved to sell long-term care insurance policies in your state. Find out whether or not there were complaints about any of the policies or the companies that sold them. You can also learn how the complaints were resolved and what insurers have a high rate of satisfactory resolutions. Many of the states' insurance departments post this information online.

      Do thorough research to make sure the policies you're considering come from a good company that is financially stable and has a long history with this type of insurance. Organizations such as Moody's Investors Service, Standard & Poor's, and A.M. Best rate the financial strength and viability of insurance companies. Avoid relatively new, small, or unstable companies.

      Compare information and costs from at least three reputable companies. Find out how often, and by how much, the companies have increased their premiums during the past 10 years. Some states' insurance departments also post records of rate increases.

      Get a written copy of any policy you're considering. Review it carefully, perhaps with the help of your attorney or financial adviser. Write out your questions, and have a representative of the insurance company respond to them in writing.

      Don't rely on what just one agent or broker tells you. These professionals may be familiar with a limited number of policies. They may not know about all the options in detail.

      If you still have questions, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), which provides free long-term care insurance counseling.

      For more information about planning for long-term care, visit www.aarp.org/decide. Decide to plan now for long-term care, create a plan that works for you, and share it with your loved ones. Let AARP help you. Decide. Create. Share.SM

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