John Hancock Raises Rates for Long-Term Care Insurance

By Bob LaMendola, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

John Hancock, one of Florida’s largest sellers of long-term care insurance, is raising rates on that coverage by an average of 35 percent for 40,000 policyholders.

Rates will jump by as much as 70 percent on some of the company’s Florida policies, under a rate increase package approved by the state Office of Insurance Regulation. Some policyholders are now getting notices of the price change.

Delray Beach retirees Dorothy and Elias Garoway will see the premiums on their individual policies jump as of May 1 to $7,632 per year — $1,232 more than they pay now.

“I don’t mind an increase, but 20 percent just seems like a tremendous amount,” said Dorothy Garoway, 79, a retired nurse. “But we don’t have a choice. We have to keep it. I doubt it if any other company would pick us up at our age.”

Long-term care policies cover at-home nursing, assisted living and nursing home care, and are being pushed to those approaching retirement as essential for the elder years.

Hancock, based in Boston, was closed on Monday and officials could not be reached for comment. But in its rate request to the state, the company said it needed the increase because of a “poor claims experience in Florida” that led to worse financial results than expected.

In letters to policyholders, the company is offering to let them lessen the rate increase by lowering the amount of care provided or lengthening the waiting period for benefits to begin.

“We are fully aware that a premium increase may be difficult for our policyholders; therefore we will provide all policyholders with an array of options which will help them mitigate the impact,” Joann Witham, the company’s long-term care director, said in a letter to the state.

The state granted most of the increase the company requested. Some policyholders will see no increase or pay about 15 percent more, but most will pay at least 36 percent more, documents show.

Hancock in late 2010 was the state’s largest long-term care insurer, with 60,000 policies paying $114 million in premiums. South Florida insurance agents said consumers had been leaving Hancock because of high premiums.

The price increase comes at a time when two other big insurers — Metropolitan Life and Prudential — stopped writing new long-term care policies in the state, said Mark Fine, a Broward County agent for Florida Health Insurance Network.


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