Why Genworth’s long-term care moves are sparking concerns

Thomas McInerney, Genworth Financial’s CEO,  told investors recently that the company is “conducting an intense, very broad and deep review of all aspects of our LTC insurance business.” He said he hoped to improve Genworth’s long-term care insurance business by getting state insurance regulators to approve big rate hikes on old policies written before 2001, and smaller increases on newer policies. And, he hoped to introduce new policies with higher initial prices and tighter underwriting – meaning, they’ll only take on healthier customers.

That prompted prompted a good deal of buzz, since Genworth is one of two very large players left in the long-term care insurance industry; the other is John Hancock. Each provides long-term care insurance to four times as many people as are covered by the next-largest competitors, according to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance.

Indeed, the field has winnowed dramatically over the past couple of years, with major players like Metlife, Prudential Financial, Unum Group and Allianz no longer writing new policies.

Right now, Genworth is sending this message: Long-term care insurance (LTCI) is going to be more expensive, and tougher to get. Learn more at Reuters Money.