Life Insurance and the Coronavirus
Life insurance policies pay out if you die from COVID-19. New life insurance applicants may need to answer COVID-19 related questions to obtain a policy, and people who have recovered from the virus may face a waiting period before coverage begins.
Does Life Insurance Cover COVID-19?
Active life insurance policies haven’t changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your policy is in good standing and your premiums are paid, you’re covered if you die from COVID-19.
In other words, if you die as a result of the coronavirus, your beneficiaries will receive a payout from the life insurance company.
However, a few situations may impact your life insurance claim.
If the insured had only an accidental death and dismemberment policy (AD&D), deaths related to infectious diseases such as COVID-19 are not covered. Most AD&D policies are supplemental to more traditional life insurance policies, which would payout for a coronavirus-related death.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group, it’s also possible that some critical illness or “dread disease” policy claims may not pay out. Dread disease riders on life insurance policies cover only the conditions they specify — such as cancer — so unless a viral disease like COVID-19 is listed, the rider or policy is unlikely to payout.
Failing to pay your life insurance premiums on time can also impact your claim.
If your premiums are not current, the policy will lapse and allow the insurer to deny a claim if the balance isn’t paid prior to the insured’s death.
Most companies have a grace period of 30 days and must send a notice reminding you of your outstanding balance.
Can You Get a New Life Insurance Policy During the Pandemic?
Yes, you can still get a new life insurance policy during the pandemic.
In fact, the industry is busier than ever.
Applications for life insurance policies in the United States increased 4 percent in 2020, the highest year-over-year annual growth since MIB Group Inc. — a member-owned organization — began tracking data in 2001.
Some new life insurance applicants experienced longer wait times at the beginning of the pandemic as insurers adjusted their medical underwriting processes. But these issues have been largely resolved and application times have improved, according to a report by Forbes.
However, don’t be surprised if you see COVID-19-specific questions on your new life insurance application forms.
Some companies have even created a separate COVID-19 questionnaire in addition to their regular applications for new customers, according to Bloomberg.
Within the last 30 days have you:
- Tested positive for coronavirus?
- Been advised to self-isolate?
- Had any symptoms of coronavirus?
- Been in direct contact with someone who was diagnosed with or who is suspected of having coronavirus?
Answering yes to one of these questions may postpone your application for about 30 days.
For example, Nationwide will consider a policy for someone who tested positive for COVID-19 but did not require hospitalization once the person is symptom-free for 30 days. If the applicant was hospitalized, the waiting period is six months, according to AARP.
If you have health conditions that put you at a greater risk for the virus — such as asthma and diabetes — or you’re aged 70 and older, it may be more difficult to get life insurance coverage. You may need to provide more health records or undergo an in-person medical exam.
Still, honesty is the best policy. It’s critical you answer all questions on a life insurance application truthfully.
The first two years of most life insurance policies include a contestability period where the carrier can scrutinize your application more closely if you die during that time.
Lying on your application can lead to policy cancellation and denial of much-need benefits for your beneficiaries.
Will Your Insurer Charge Higher Rates if You Had COVID-19?
According to Forbes, life insurance costs and premiums have remained steady, and many COVID-19-related claims have already been paid.
A December 2020 research report from University of Kentucky and Illinois State University economists found “limited evidence that life insurance companies increased premiums or decreased policy offerings due to COVID-19.” The study analyzed more than 800,000 life insurance policy quotes from almost 100 companies between 2014 and October 2020.
However, economists found that the lowest priced policies did increase life insurance premiums for new policies issued to older individuals.
In general, your insurer cannot charge you higher premiums on your current policy even if you had COVID-19, or are at a higher risk of exposure.
Does the Coronavirus Vaccine Affect Life Insurance?
In March and May 2021, false social media posts claimed that life insurance companies deny coverage and payouts to people who received a COVID-19 vaccine.
To be clear, your vaccination status does not jeopardize your life insurance. Life insurance companies don’t consider whether a policyholder has received a COVID-19 vaccine when deciding to pay a claim.
Industry groups, state regulators and individual insurance companies have said vaccination is not a factor in life insurance.
“Life insurance policy contracts are very clear on how policies work, and what cause, if any, might lead to the denial of a benefit,” Paul Graham, senior vice president of policy development at the American Council of Life Insurers, wrote in a March 12, 2021 statement. “A vaccine for COVID-19 is not one of them.”
10 Cited Research Articles
- Rouan, R. (2021, May 23). Fact check: COVID-19 vaccine won't jeopardize your life insurance coverage. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2021/05/23/fact-check-covid-19-vaccine-wont-jeopardize-life-insurance-coverage/5203188001/
- Markowitz, A. (2021, April 27). AARP Answers: Your Insurance Coverage and the Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2020/insurance-policies-during-coronavirus-faq.html
- American Council of Life Insurers. (2021, March 12). American Council of Life Insurers Responds to Social Media Misinformation About COVID-19 Vaccine. Retrieved from https://www.acli.com/Posting/NR21-012
- Scism, L. (2021, February 1). Covid-19 Pandemic Motivates Younger People to Buy Life Insurance. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/covid-19-pandemic-motivates-younger-people-to-buy-life-insurance-11612184402
- Keshner, A. (2020, December 14). Has COVID-19 made life insurance more expensive? These researchers say they have the answer. Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/has-covid-19-made-life-insurance-more-expensive-these-researchers-say-they-have-the-answer-2020-12-07
- Wheeler, L. (2020, December 2). Covid Unknowns Leave Survivors Fearing Life Insurance Rejection. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-02/covid-unknowns-leave-survivors-fearing-life-insurance-rejection
- Harris, T. F., Yelowitz, A. and Courtemanche, C. J. (2020, December). Did COVID-19 Change Life Insurance Offerings? Retrieved from https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w28172/w28172.pdf
- Wait, R. (2020, October 26). Life Insurance And COVID-19: All You Need To Know. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/uk/advisor/personal-finance/2020/10/26/life-insurance-and-covid-19-all-you-need-to-know/
- Iacurci, G. (2020, October 14). Americans are ‘panic buying’ life insurance due to coronavirus pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/14/life-insurance-sales-increase-due-to-coronavirus-pandemic.html
- Dunsavage, J. (2020, April 28). Are Life Insurers Denying Benefits for Deaths Related to COVID-19? Retrieved from https://www.iii.org/insuranceindustryblog/are-life-insurers-denying-benefits-for-deaths-related-to-covid-19/