Finding Ways to Afford Alzheimer’s Care

Presented by: June Duncan

More than five million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other memory-related disorders. These individuals may require 24-hour care, depending on their disease’s progression, and those costs can skyrocket, because specialized dementia services are expensive.

Finding affordable, quality care
When it’s clear that a loved one will require additional caregiving, take steps to protect their assets and secure affordable, quality care. Memory care for Alzheimer’s or dementia patients differs from facilities that provide a more comprehensive assisted living support.

Identify family resources, update your loved one’s legal and financial affairs, and monitor accounts to protect finances from fraud or bad decisions. Evaluate a variety of senior care communities; if one appeals, join the waiting list. Use this checklist to help evaluate a facility that includes programs exclusively dedicated to helping those with memory issues.

Negotiate costs. Many assisted living facilities have the flexibility to negotiate the monthly rate. Ask about move-in incentives, too. The cost of assisted living also varies by location; suburbs and outlying communities may charge less, so try searching outside your zip code.

Compare inclusive pricing with a la carte costs. Some facilities allow you to pick and choose the services you or your loved one will receive—and that may translate into cost savings if you’re able to fill in those gaps yourself or with other low-cost/no-cost services.

Options to covering the cost of care
Expect to pay for at least a portion of this care out of pocket, especially since Medicare covers nursing home benefits only up to 100 days. If someone with Alzheimer’s requires care in a psychiatric hospital, Medicare will extend its coverage an additional 90 days. It does not pay for personal or custodial care in assisted living facilities or for those living at home, although it does cover medical care in either location.

Medicaid, on the other hand, differs from state to state. You can apply for a Medicaid Waiver to help cover the cost of receiving care outside of a nursing home. The program has financial eligibility requirements and considers applicants’ abilities to care for themselves—patients diagnosed with mid- to late-stage Alzheimer’s do typically qualify for Medicaid benefits.

A variety of state-managed and funded programs are available for lower-income residents, including those with Alzheimer’s. This list of state non-Medicaid assistance programs is a good place to start.

Alternative funding sources for long-term nursing home care
Cash in personal assets. Those assets may include investments like stocks, bonds, savings accounts, real estate, and personal property, like jewelry or artwork. Selling a home that’s grown in equity may help liquidate much-needed cash, or you can convert a home’s equity into cash with a reverse mortgage. While reverse mortgages won’t impact Social Security or Medicare benefits, they can disqualify someone from other government programs, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

Take out a personal loan. A cost-effective short-term solution to covering costs of care may be to secure a personal loan rather than charging the expense on a credit card. Ultimately, choosing the right loan comes down to finding the lowest possible rate—APRs typically range between 4.99% and 35.99%, so research carefully.

Explore government programs. In addition to Medicare, the government offers other programs to those who qualify, like SSI, which guarantees a minimum monthly income to people age 65 and older.

Secure long-term care insurance. This insurance won’t be granted to individuals already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, if the person carries this insurance prior to a diagnosis—and the best time to get long-term care insurance is in your mid-50s—review the policy to see if Alzheimer’s care is covered. If it isn’t, check with the policyholder about adding a rider to cover that expense.

The National Institute on Aging provides an exceptional resource for caregivers seeking support and information about getting help for people with Alzheimer’s. The site offers a variety of contacts to help you find low-cost or free community support services as well as other sources to help you cover the costs not covered by the programs listed above.

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

Why Risk Transfer for Landlords?

Presented by: Christopher F. Hawthorne, CPCU, CIC

A property owner’s Insurance premiums can be driven upward for rental properties due to loss history.  The insurance policy provides money to rebuild damaged property, to defend in a liability suit, to pay settlements as well as take care of employees when they are injured on the job.  These combined costs are labeled as losses.

An insurance loss has the potential of driving insurance premiums up for four or five years as well as limiting which carriers will wish to work with a property. When an insurance carrier is determining what it will offer in terms of premiums, it will incorporate the prior four years of losses as part of the pricing mechanism.  The fewer and smaller the losses, the more carriers will be interested and the lower the premiums can be offered.

An available risk management technique to lower the size of a property owner’s losses arising from the rental of that property is  the inclusion of  Risk Transfer language in the lease.  Risk Transfer in the lease can protect the landlord’s insurance program and future premiums by transferring the cost of a loss to the tenant’s insurance program.

The major types of protection in risk transfer  are:

Hold Harmless-Tenant holds Landlord harmless for a loss when Tenant has caused part or all of a loss.

Indemnify– Tenant agrees to reimburse Landlord for damages (settlements and judgments).

Defend– Tenant agrees to pay the cost to defend Landlord after a loss if Landlord is named in a claim or suit.

Additional Insured Status– Tenant provides coverage for Landlord under Tenant’s insurance program.

Primary Coverage-Tenant states that it’s coverage is primary should Landlord be brought into the suit.

Non-Contributory-Tenant states it’s policy disallows Landlord’s policies from sharing in the loss.

Waiver of Subrogation-Tenant disallows its’ insurance company from pursuing Landlord’s insurance carrier for any amount due to Landlord’s negligence that may have contributed to the loss.

In short, Landlord is highly protected by Tenant through contractual agreement in the lease as well as the tenant’s insurance program.

While not seen in all leases, the above language is quite commonly used and is a very easy risk management tool for a Landlords to implement. The rewards are lower losses, a well insured tenant and a greater number of insurance carriers available to offer coverage / lower future premiums.

It is critical to involve your attorneys as well as your insurance agents when drafting a lease. As always, a team approach and communication will put everyone is a better position to succeed and survive a loss.

Cloudy With a Chance of… Flooding!

Flood insurance has been an afterthought in most Americans’ minds when it comes to insuring property. Well, folks…the time has come for us to re-think the way we view flood insurance—more importantly, how we define and imagine flood. Here are some quick flood facts:

  1. Just one inch of water in a home can cost more than $25,000 in damage.
  2. Floods kill more than 100 people annually, which is more than any other single hazard.
  3. An individual flood claim averages more than $20,000.
  4. Without flood insurance, the only option for assistance with repairs would be to apply for federal disaster assistance.
    1. Federal disaster declarations are issued in less than 50 percent of flooding events.  Federal disaster assistance typically comes in the form of a low-interest disaster loan, which must be repaid.
    2. Hurricane Harvey’s average grant from FEMA was $7,000, while the average National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) claim was over $100,000.

“Rain, Rain, Go Away”
When a hurricane is approaching, the first thought about damage that comes to mind is damage from wind and coastal flooding. However, did you know that flooding is the most common, costly, severe, and deadly weather-related natural disaster in the country? Additionally, did you know that a property does not have to be near water to flood? As a matter of fact, if you live in an area with low or moderate flood risk, you are five times more likely to experience a flood than a fire in your home over the next 30 years! More than 20 percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood claims come from outside of high-risk flood areas. Floods can result from storms, melting snow, hurricanes, drainage system backups, broken water mains, and changes to land from new construction, among other things.
Heavy precipitation is becoming more intense and more frequent across most of the United States, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest. Extreme precipitation is related to climate change, due to a warmer atmosphere that can “hold” more water vapor, and therefore deliver more rainfall.

The Tides (and Sea Level) are Changing
Sea levels are rising. Regardless of what side of the “Climate Change” fence you’re on, there’s no denying that sea levels are rising and storms are becoming more frequent and volatile. Global sea level has risen approximately 7–8 inches since 1900, with about three of those inches occurring since 1993. The current rate of rise is a little more than an inch per decade. To take that a step further, take a look at how this has impacted the Northeast specifically:

  • The Northeast has seen an increase in extreme precipitation, more than any other region in the United States. Between 1958 and 2010, the Northeast saw more than a 70 percent increase in the amount of precipitation falling in heavy weather events.
  • Between 1895 and 2011, temperatures in the Northeast have increased by almost 2˚F (0.16˚F per decade), and precipitation has increased by approximately five inches, or more than 10 percent (0.4 inches per decade).
  • Global sea levels are projected to rise 1 to 4 feet by 2100.
  • A sea level rise of two feet, without any changes in storms, would more than triple the frequency of dangerous coastal flooding throughout most of the Northeast.

Preparedness & Recovery
The most important thing you can do in the event of a flood or flash flood is to avoid the impacted areas. Our familiarity with rain and water creates a different risk perception, but it should not be taken lightly. We have a tendency to overlook and internalize what 20+ inches of rain would look like in our daily activities, since it’s something most of us have never experienced. However, when you find yourself in a flash flood or flood area, you can take these helpful measures to avoid further loss of property or life:

  • Use USGS’s WaterAlert system (http://maps.waterdata.usgs.gov/mapper/wateralert) to receive texts or email messages when a stream in your area is rising to flood level.
  • Regularly clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Store copies of irreplaceable documents (such as birth certificates, passports, etc.) in a safe, dry place. Keep originals in a safe deposit box.
  • Build an emergency supply kit. Food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines, and a battery-operated radio should be ready to go when you are.
  • Move furniture, valuables and important documents to a safe place.
  • Reduce the risk of damage from flooding by elevating critical utilities, such as electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring, appliances and heating systems.
  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown: We assume that the amount of water on the road we travel everyday isn’t that bad and that it is surely passable. However, it seems that in every storm that brings flooding, there are videos of cars stalling in that seemingly passable road that need to be rescued.