The largest long-term care insurance claim that has been paid out to date reached $1.8 million at the end of last year, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

The claim was paid for 15 years and nine months as of the end of the year and is continuing, a study by the AALTCI says. The beneficiary had paid into the insurance for three years at $881 a year before making the claim.

The association conducted the study to help counter a recent spate of publicity about claim denials and increasing premiums, says Jesse Slome, AALTCI director. “If you need care for a few months or for many years, benefit payments from your insurance can help relieve the financial and emotional toll that so many families face,” he says.

Long-term care insurance paid $6.6 billion in claims to 264,000 people last year.

“People mistakenly associate long-term care with care needed by the elderly,” Slome says. “Accidents, injuries and illnesses also can result in a need for long-term care.”

Approximately half of the claims opened in 2012 were for home care services, while the remainder were for assisted living or skilled nursing homes.

The largest open claims from leading insurance companies ranged from $322,286 to the $1.8 million, paid to a female beneficiary. Another claim being paid to a male recipient had reached $1.3 million at the end of last year.

Of the new claims filed last year, 68 percent were paid to beneficiaries who were 80 or older and 23.5 percent were paid to people between 70 and 80. The most common reasons for a claim were Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, arthritis, circulatory issues and injuries.