People buy insurance to insulate themselves from surprises. Many long-term care (LTC) policy owners, however, received uninsulated surprises recently-substantial rate increases from carriers including MetLife, John Hancock and TransAmerica.

"I've seen rate increases as high as 25%," says Mark Thompson, senior vice president of Thompson Wealth Management in Melbourne, Fla. "Double digits are standard." Last year a John Hancock study projected premium increases of 40%. MetLife and Berkshire decided to stop writing LTC policies in late 2010 and early 2011. Across the industry, experts say costs will push carriers either to raise rates or stop selling policies.

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