Women thinking about buying long-term care insurance might want to shop for coverage sooner than later. Major insurers are moving toward charging separate rates for women and men -- which could increase rates for women by 20 percent to 40 percent, according to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance. (See: " IRS to increase long-term care insurance deductions.") "There's a window of opportunity to lock in lower rates, and that window is closing," association director Jesse Slome says. "Especially for single women ages 55 to 65, this is a good time to investigate pricing." Both Genworth and John Hancock, two of the industry's biggest players, have submitted state rate filings to start charging different rates for men and women, Slome says. (See: "( Buyer beware: 5 tips for buying long-term care insurance.") "Others will follow," he adds. He projects the new pricing probably will roll out this summer. Only two states, Colorado and Montana, don't allow sex-distinct pricing for long-term care insurance. However, the gender rate changes won't affect all women applying for coverage. Genworth spokesperson Tom Topinka says the gender rate changes at his company won't apply to couples, and, as a result, will impact only a small portion of women applicants at Genworth. About 80 percent of applicants for long-term care insurance at Genworth are couples, and 10 percent of applicants are individual women, he says.
Why women have to pay more for long-term care insurance
Insurance companies are moving away from unisex pricing because women tend to live longer than men and require more care. Women accounted for 65 percent of all new long-term care insurance claims opened in 2011, according to the association's 2012 industry report. The most frequent reasons women need long-term care insurance benefits are dementia, cancer, fractures, stroke, osteoarthritis and hip fractures or replacements.