Brighthouse Financial offers a hybrid long-term care insurance policy — Brighthouse SmartCare — that provides your loved ones a death benefit and offers you long-term care coverage if you need it.
In this long-term care insurance company review, we'll cover everything you need to know about this plan, including:
Read on to learn more.
- As a hybrid policy, SmartCare pays a life insurance death benefit if you do not use all of the policy’s long-term care benefits.
- Brighthouse offers two options for increasing your long-term care benefit amount.
- Brighthouse has a Simple Underwriting program for eligible clients that does not require medical exams or labs. Underwriting decisions are generally made within 24 hours of completed requirements.
- The company does not offer a standalone long-term care insurance policy.
- The company’s financial ratings, while adequate, are not as strong as other long-term care insurance providers.
- Although the company has historic roots, Brighthouse Financial has only existed as an independent insurance company since 2017.
In 2019, Brighthouse Financial launched its first life insurance product under its new independent identity with SmartCare.
SmartCare is a hybrid life insurance solution that combines the growth opportunities and death benefit of an indexed universal life (IUL) policy with protection against the costs of long-term care (LTC).
If customers don’t use the LTC benefit, they get value through the guaranteed death benefit. If you don’t use the policy’s long-term care benefits, your loved ones will receive the death benefit in full when you pass away. Loved ones can still receive a portion if you use some of the benefits for long-term care.
Brighthouse SmartCare distinguishes itself from other hybrid products by offering policyholders the ability to grow cash value, death benefits, and LTC coverage through the performance of major market indices.
Coverage & benefits
The long-term care portion of the policy provides three benefit options:
- An indexed benefit amount
- A fixed growth benefit amount
- A level benefit
The indexed long-term care benefit can increase based on market gains up to an annual maximum growth rate. You can choose for your benefit amount to track or more of the following indices: S&P 500, Russell 2000 Index, or the MSCI EAFE Index.
The fixed growth long-term care benefit increase by 5 percent compounded annually.
The level long-term care benefit amount remains the same for the life of the policy.
The long-term care portion of SmartCare is a cash indemnity plan. That means once you are eligible to receive benefits, you can access your maximum amount of available benefit dollars, regardless of the actual cost of care, with no receipts or tracked expenses required.
The policy offers two-year, four-year, and six-year benefit periods. You can make a single premium payment, or pay annually between two and five years.
The policy provides access to cash values via policy loans and surrender. There is also a terminal illness benefit that provides a one-time payout if your life expectancy is less than a year. The maximum benefit amount you may request will be the lesser of $250,000 and 50 percent of your policy’s face amount.
Underwriting & claims
Brighthouse has a Simple Underwriting process for eligible clients. All applicants who qualify for Simple Underwriting will not have to submit labs or undergo a medical exam. Applicants between the ages of 40 and 65 will only have to provide medical records for significant medical conditions. Applicants between 66 and 75 will have to provide medical records and submit to a cognitive interview.
For all applicants in Simple Underwriting, an underwriting decision is typically provided within 24 hours of the company receiving all completed requirements.
To file a long-term care claim, a physician must certify that the insured is chronically ill and unable to perform two of the six activities of daily living (bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting, transferring) or has a severe cognitive impairment. A care plan prescribed by a healthcare provider must be in place. The insured must also be receiving covered qualified long-term care services.
You can file a claim by requesting a long-term care claims packet from the company’s claims department, which will be sent to you within 15 calendar days of the company receiving notice of a claim. Once you’ve submitted the required documentation, Brighthouse will review and respond within 30 calendar days. If your claim is denied, you will have 60 days to appeal the decision.
The elimination period is 90 days from when you are certified to need long-term care to when you begin receiving benefits. Premium requirements are waived while you’re receiving benefits.
Learn More: What Is Long-Term Care Insurance?
Brighthouse Financial traces its roots to the founding of Travelers Insurance Company in 1863. In 2005, MetLife Inc. acquired Travelers Life Insurance Company and Travelers Life & Annuity Company, which are later consolidated as MetLife Insurance Company of Connecticut (MICC).
In 2016, MetLife announced plans to spin off a substantial portion of its U.S. retail business. The spin-off, completed in August 2017, created an independent, publicly traded company named Brighthouse Financial Inc. through the distribution of Brighthouse Financial's common stock to MetLife shareholders. Brighthouse began trading as an independent company on the Nasdaq stock market under the symbol BHF.
In 2018, MetLife divested its minority ownership stake in Brighthouse. Today, Brighthouse and MetLife are two separate, publicly traded companies.
Brighthouse Financial is now one of the largest providers of annuities and life insurance in the U.S. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, it is licensed to issue life insurance and annuity products in all 50 states. It is part of the Fortune 500 based on total revenues.
Brighthouse currently carries the following financial strength ratings:
- S&P: A+, the 5th highest of 22 ratings
- Moody’s: A3, the 7th highest of 21 ratings
- A.M. Best: A, the 3rd highest of 16 ratings
- Fitch: A, the 6th highest of 19 ratings
The company’s president and CEO is Eric Steigerwalt, who was previously executive vice president of MetLife’s U.S. retail business prior to the spin-off to Brighthouse. Steigerwalt began his tenure at MetLife in 1998, managing many of the operational aspects of MetLife’s demutualization and IPO, and went on to become the company’s first head of investor relations.
Before joining MetLife, Steigerwalt worked in finance at Equitable Companies and at Fossett Corporation where he was a derivatives trader.
The company is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but does get an A+ from the organization.
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