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My husband and I both have long term healthcare insurance which we have not had to use. But we will! He is 81 and I am 75. I want to contact the companies and ask questions about how and what to do to activate care when it becomes necessary. Do you have any suggestions?  Janice M., Miami, FL

In general, activating the policy is simple. The front page will identify the company and the phone number to call to initiate a claim. Most companies have a toll free number and the claims department will answer your questions. They can send you a claim form for you to keep for your files so that you’ll have them if the time comes to activate your policy. 

I spoke with Arthur Cohen ( , a local long-term care expert who told me that the company will explain to you what you have to do to quality to activate your policy. Most policies written 1997 and later require that you need help with at least two of your ADLs (activities of daily living) or have cognitive impairment. Many of the policies written pre 1997 only require “medical necessity” ie: your doctor says it’s a medical necessary.

If you have children I suggest you make a copy of the front page, highlight the important information so that they too have a copy of them should you ever require assistance from them. 

One final piece of “unsolicited” advice is that if you have children, I suggest you include one on your policy so that they receive an annual bill as well. I don’t doubt your ability to manage this but a safety net is always a good idea, especially with long-term care insurance. 

It’s such a good idea to be prepared ahead of time ---- While not all policies are the same, many require a “wait” period of anywhere from 1 week to 6 months, and by initiating claim as soon as you need it may result in less out of pocket expenses.