"That is so much more cost-efficient," Leitz says. "I find that if there is an obstacle to it, it's that the parents won't talk about it or that the siblings aren't interested."

The larger and more established companies in the market, meanwhile, are looking to increase market share, and one of their targets is the affluent 40- to 50-something client demographic, they say. That has led to more creative policy riders designed to make the insurance more attractive to both clients and their financial advisors, says Wilma G. Anderson, an advisor in Denver who trains long-term care insurance sales agents.

The bells and whistles include survivor benefits, death benefits, and hybrid life and long-term care insurance, she says. New survivor benefits include a rider that works to the benefit of married couples who have owned a policy for at least ten years without making a claim. In those cases, Anderson says, one spouse would have premiums paid in full for the rest of his or her life if the other spouse passes away.

Some riders waive the premiums for both husband and wife if one is on a claim or waive claims entirely for single policyholders during the time they are on a claim, she says. Insurers are also beefing up the benefits for home care, with one rider that doubles home care benefits in cases where a policyholder is declared terminally ill.

"There's much more emphasis on home care in all different kinds of situations," Anderson says.

But advisors need to be involved in the due diligence process because not all the policy features are worth the cost, says Tanya Rapacz, principal and co-owner of Smith Rapacz LLC in Boston, Mass. One example, she says, would be a nonforfeiture option, which provides policyholders with reduced benefits even if they stop paying premiums.

While an advisor dealing with long-term care insurance may feel like he's faced with a sea of numbers, dealings with clients will go well beyond number crunching, say advisors with experience on the issue.

The decision, they say, is much more often a personal one that largely depends on a how a client feels about risk, life after retirement and the question of what assets they want to pass on after death.

"Ultimately, it comes down to a subjective decision about whether they value the security the policy provides, and how much they value that security," says Bruce Brinkman, vice president of Focus Financial Advisors in Rockford, Ill.

On a completely analytical level, he says, an advisor's first job is to assess how the cost of long-term care insurance-which generally runs between $2,000 and $5,000 a year-will impact a client's retirement plan. If the cost is too great, adversely impacting a client's quality of life in retirement, the recommendation may be to pass on a policy and rely on Medicare. Affluent clients, advisors say, may decide they're better off self-insuring.