As you grow older, you may need assistance with daily activities. You can purchase long-term care insurance to defray the high cost of nursing home expenses. Despite its increasing popularity due to a rapidly aging population, the number of long-term care insurance providers has sharply declined over the past 20 years.
Of the dozen-odd long-term care providers left, Northwestern Mutual long-term care insurance stands out for its couple-friendly discount options and rock-solid financial stability. In this guide, we'll take a deeper look at Northwestern Mutual. You'll learn about the company’s strengths and weaknesses, policy limitations and whether it might be the best long-term care insurance company for you.
Best for Couples
Northwestern Mutual offers up to a 30% discount for married couples. Both partners must hold a long-term care policy through Northwestern Mutual to qualify for this price break. In addition, partners can draw upon each other's policies if their long-term costs exceed their individual policy limits.
Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance Pros and Cons
In this section, we'll cover a few of the benefits and drawbacks of using Northwestern Mutual.
- Spousal discount available
- Current policyholders have the option to upgrade their policies
- Offers a whole life insurance policy with a long-term care rider
- Can't obtain an online quote
- Limited amount of benefit periods to choose from
Northwestern Mutual's strengths include a spousal discount option and the ability to upgrade your policy. If you already own a whole-life policy through Northwestern Mutual, you can add a long-term care rider instead of purchasing another policy.
Spousal discount available
With Northwestern Mutual, you may qualify for a spousal discount of up to 30% when you and your spouse purchase a long-term care policy. The company’s website advertises 30% as the maximum figure, which means the discount that you qualify for may be a lower amount.
Current policyholders have the option to upgrade their policies
Northwestern Mutual long-term care policyholders can upgrade to a higher-priced plan level at any time without applying for an entirely new policy. This added flexibility means you can take on a lower-priced policy with confidence, knowing that if your needs change, you have the option of purchasing more robust coverage.
Offers a whole life insurance policy with a long-term care rider
You may attach an accelerated care benefit rider to your whole life policy through Northwestern Mutual. This lets you access long-term care should you need it. However, if you don't end up using the policy, the policy still pays out a death benefit to your beneficiaries. Check out our comprehensive guide to the best life insurance companies for more details.
Disadvantages of using Northwestern Mutual’s services include a lack of online quote options and only two benefit periods.
Can't obtain an online quote
At this time, Northwestern Mutual does not provide an online quote generator tool. Instead, if you click on the 'get insurance' button on its website, you'll be taken to a page where you'll be prompted to find an advisor in your local area. While the process is relatively intuitive and painless, there's no getting around the fact that you'll have to pick up a phone and speak with a Northwestern Mutual employee to find out how much you'll pay in monthly premiums.
Limited amount of benefit periods to choose from
Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance only offers the choice between a three and six-year benefit period. Benefit periods are the minimum amount of time that the insurance company pays out benefits. During a benefit period, money accumulates, and you can use it whenever you need long-term care services in the future. Competitors provide more flexibility by offering more benefit period options.
Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance Offerings
Northwestern Mutual offers two different long-term care insurance products. Continue reading to learn which might be the right choice for you.
QuietCare policyholders receive anywhere from $1,500 to $12,000 per month for care costs. You can increase this amount in $100 increments. This stand-alone policy type works on a reimbursement model and can cover expenses from:
- Eligible long-term care providers in your home
- Care in the community
- Care in an Alternate Living Facility
- Care in a Nursing Home
You may choose between a 6, 12, 25 or 52-week elimination period. Elimination periods function like deductibles for long-term care policies. Your benefits will not kick in until the elimination period has expired. Shorter elimination periods typically lead to more expensive monthly premiums and vice versa. You can choose a 3, 4 or 5% compounded inflation protection add-on. This protects your benefits from being eroded by inflation. You may also opt for a guaranteed purchase option that lets you increase your monthly benefits in the future without undergoing additional underwriting.
Optional riders include:
- Waiver of premium
- Survivorship benefit
- Return of premium
Launched in September of last year, this hybrid product is similar to but ultimately separate from Northwestern Mutual's whole life plus insurance policy, which comes with an optional accelerated care benefit rider. With this policy, you'll receive at least six years of guaranteed coverage that starts on day one. The coverage can increase to up to 10 years of total coverage over the life of the policy. The amount of time that it takes depends on factors like the payment plan, amount of initial investment and length of the total policy. If you don't use your Long-Term Advantage policy or only access partial benefits, your heirs will receive a death benefit and possibly a refund for a portion of the unused cash investment. You may also claim its surrender value if you change your mind later.
Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance Pricing
It is difficult to get exact prices for Northwestern Mutual's long-term care policies. Because Northwestern Mutual does not make prices available or offer estimates online, you will need to speak with an agent about your specific situation in order to attain accurate pricing.
One advantage of buying a policy through Northwestern Mutual is the company’s flexible payment options for its Long-Term Advantage plan. You can pay in a single lump sum, in regular annual payments for 10 or 15 years or by combining the two methods. While Northwestern Mutual used to charge its premiums on a unisex basis, the industry has shifted toward gender-based pricing. This means men pay less than before and women more. Women typically live longer and use more long-term care services than men, leading to higher premiums.
Want to learn more? Read our complete guide to what is insurance.
Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance Financial Stability
According to several top credit rating agencies, Northwestern Mutual stands on firm financial ground. These include:
- A.M. Best: A++ (Superior)
- Fitch Ratings: AAA (Highest)
- Moody's: Aaa (Highest)
- Standard and Poor's: AA+ (Second highest)
Collectively, these ratings indicate that Northwestern Mutual has a stable financial outlook and is unlikely to become insolvent anytime soon. This is important for consumers since bankruptcy can potentially disrupt policy payouts.
Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance Accessibility
Northwestern Mutual is a national brand whose long-term care policies cover individuals seeking care across the U.S. However, it loses points on accessibility due to its lack of online quote options and heavy reliance on insurance agents. Most long-term care insurance providers, including Northwestern Mutual, are less likely to issue new policies to the elderly and the infirm.
You can apply for a Northwestern Mutual policy from anywhere in America. However, not all applicants will be approved for coverage. All long-term care insurance providers assess policy candidates along a range of variables, with two of the most prominent being age and physical condition. To maximize your chances of being accepted for a Northwestern Mutual long-term care insurance policy, apply no later than when you’re in your 50s. As you enter your 60s and 70s, your likelihood of receiving a rejection increases significantly.
You can contact Northwestern Mutual in several ways. These include the following:
- Phone: Reach out at 866-950-4644 Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT.
- By mail: Send a letter to 720 East Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53202.
Northwestern Mutual takes an old-school approach to customer service. Its Contact Us page doesn't list an e-mail address. The company doesn’t provide an online contact form or have a live chat feature on its website.
While Northwestern Mutual lets you access some information online, you'll have to call an agent in your area to receive a quote. Northwestern Mutual's application process is relatively cumbersome compared to many other insurance providers. However, some individuals may appreciate the human touch.
Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance Customer Satisfaction
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is an industry body that tracks complaints made against major insurance companies. It runs an insurance complaint index that divides the number of complaints made against an insurer by its share of the U.S. market. A score of one indicates that the company has received an average amount of complaints, while anything below one is below average, and everything above one is above average. Northwestern Mutual currently holds a rating of 0.03%, which is extremely low. Northwestern Mutual policyholders are significantly less likely to complain than the average insured individual.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has awarded Northwestern Mutual with an A- rating. On the BBB website, the company holds a 1.5/5 star average rating with 13 customer reviews. It closed 17 customer complaints in the past year and 36 complaints in the past three years. Several complaints mentioned poor customer service and deceptive business practices. However, given the low number of complaints, it's best to take these with a grain of salt.
Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance FAQ
Do I need long-term care insurance if I have health insurance?
What are Northwestern Mutual's long-term care insurance benefit eligibility requirements?
Is Northwestern Mutual a good company?
How We Evaluated Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance
When evaluating Northwestern Mutual, we assessed it along a variety of metrics. These include:
- Price: Cost of coverage and availability of estimates
- Discounts: Deductions and promotions available to customers
- Customer satisfaction: How well services and products meet customer expectations
- Accessibility: How easy it is to purchase the insurance
- Availability: Where you can purchase Northwestern Mutual policies
- Financial stability: How well company manages risks and performs financially
- Coverage range and options: Breadth of products and coverage offered
Summary of Money's Northwestern Mutual Long-Term Care Insurance Review
Northwestern Mutual offers quality coverage for long-term care. Its spousal discount option may lessen the sticker shock for married couples. Its highly favorable NAIC score suggests most policyholders are satisfied with their coverage. With Northwestern Mutual, you can choose between its QuietCare and Long-Term Advantage policy options. The former lets you choose between a three and six-year term, while the latter gives you six years of guaranteed coverage with a potential ten-year total. You can customize your policy with optional riders, such as inflation protection, waiver of premium, survivorship benefit and return of premium.
Northwestern Mutual scores are very high for financial stability from a range of major credit rating bodies. With its nationwide presence, you should have little trouble finding a local advisor to walk you through the insurance purchasing process. Do-it-yourselfers will be disappointed in the lack of online insurance quote generation and purchasing options. A few other positives include flexible payment options and the ability to upgrade to a higher plan tier at any time. Ultimately, Northwestern Mutual might be the right long-term insurance provider for you if you value financial stability and you're able to take advantage of its generous spousal discount.
Read our complete Northwestern Mutual life insurance review for more information about this provider.