Find out if long-term-care coverage is right for you.

FOLKS WHO GULP HARD AND map out their long-term-care strategy, whether it's buying a long-term-care policy or self-insuring, say there's comfort in doing so. "You should be prepared for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best," says 58-year-old Marta Ferragut of Silver Spring, Md., who purchased a policy last December. "I'm hoping I won't need it. I'm hoping I'm throwing money down the drain."

Policy Shopper's Guide

Some insurance agents, known as captive agents, sell one brand of policies, while brokers represent several providers. Many employers offer policies too, as do associations such as the AARP. Many employer plans have lower premiums and lower thresholds for your health history before approval, which is better for those struggling with a disability or illness. When buying any kind of insurance, you should always choose a reputable carrier on good financial footing. Be sure to check a company's credit rating with a service such as A.M. Best or Standard & Poor's.