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Dispelling the myths about COVID-19 and Life Insurance

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Dispelling the myths about COVID-19 and Life Insurance
Katy Ward
Katy Ward
Jun. 03, 20213 min read
While staying safe and well remains everyone’s top priority during the COVID-19 outbreak, the events of the past year have also opened many people’s eyes to the importance of getting their finances in order. Having life insurance in place can provide the reassurance of knowing that expenses such as your mortgage and children’s education will be taken care of should the worst happen.

However, many policyholders have been left feeling anxious in recent weeks, thanks to a raft of rumors that have emerged on social media. You may have seen posters alleging that catching the virus or even taking the COVID-19 vaccine could invalidate your life insurance policy, meaning your beneficiaries would be left without a payout.

So it’s unsurprising that you may have questions and concerns if you’re planning on taking out a policy. Does life insurance cover coronavirus? How about life insurance and the COVID-19 vaccine? And what about payouts for frontline workers?

In this article, we examine some of the misconceptions and half-truths surrounding life insurance and COVID-19. This way, you can separate fact from fiction when taking out a new policy or reassessing your existing coverage.

MYTH 1: Companies are using a secret pandemic clause in insurance policies to reject claims

Myth 1

FALSE

You may be asking yourself if life insurance will cover COVID-related death. First thing’s first: you’ll be relieved to learn that traditional term and whole life insurance policies will cover you if you pass away after contracting an infectious disease such as COVID-19. 

In fact, rather than seeking to reject claims, many insurance companies took measures to extend grace periods for customers who were unable to meet the cost of their premiums during the pandemic. Although the length of these grace periods varies between insurers, it’s typically around 60 days. In fact, most insurers have even simplified their application process due to the pandemic, by adopting a no medical exam policy. You can compare the insurers who do not require a medical exam here.

There is, however, one important point to bear in mind when it comes to life insurance and COVID-19, which relates to accidental death and dismemberment policies. Although this type of coverage can provide invaluable protection if your death is the result of an accident, your beneficiaries won’t receive a payout should you pass away as the result of an illness.

MYTH 2: My insurer won’t pay out if I die from the side effects of taking the vaccine

Myth 2

FALSE

If you search the term “life insurance and COVID-19 vaccine” on Twitter, you’re likely to come across a rumor that insurance companies are dropping clients who have had a coronavirus vaccine on the basis that these immunizations are in the experimental stages.

Luckily, this isn’t the case. If you are receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccinations, rest assured that these medications have been approved for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration and are therefore no longer deemed experimental. So, in the unlikely event that you were to pass away as a result of taking the vaccine, your insurance company could not withhold payment.

As proof of this, the American Council of Life Insurers released the following statement: “A social media post appears to be behind the spread of entirely false information, suggesting a COVID-19 vaccine could be a factor a life insurer considers in the claims-paying process. The fact is that life insurers do not consider whether or not a policyholder has received a COVID vaccine when deciding whether to pay a claim.”

MYTH 3: I can’t get insurance if I work on the frontline with patients

Myth 3

FALSE

We all know the virus has taken a horrific toll on frontline workers who have put their lives in jeopardy to save others. It would, therefore, be unthinkable that frontline workers’ chances of being approved for life insurance and protecting their loved ones would be in question. 

Thankfully, many within the industry have sought to reward the efforts made by frontline workers. Insurer MassMutual, for instance, made headlines with the nationwide expansion of its Healthbridge program, which offers free term life insurance to workers who interact directly with COVID-19 patients. The plans, which are available to both employees and qualifying volunteers, have a 3-year term and offer payouts of up to $25,000.

MYTH 4: The virus means I can’t get life insurance if I’m over 50

Myth 4

MOSTLY FALSE

With the risk of passing away from the virus directly related to a person’s age, it’s easy to understand why some older people feel concerned that they won’t qualify for life insurance during the pandemic. Although people as young as 50 should be able to buy coverage with relative ease, those in older age brackets may face greater difficulties.

While insurance companies are not legally allowed to cancel an existing policy on the basis of a person’s age, certain insurers did restrict sales of policies to customers over the age of 80 when the pandemic began. Although this doesn’t make it impossible to buy a policy, you may need to shop around for a provider that is willing to insure you at an affordable rate. 

MYTH 5: I'll automatically be rejected for coverage if I’ve already had the virus

Myth 5

FALSE

If you’ve had the virus, you may have heard that your experience will place you on an insurance blacklist, and you’ll automatically be declined for coverage in the future. Luckily, this is untrue and, provided you meet other eligibility criteria, you should still qualify for insurance.

When you apply for a policy, an insurance company will want to take an in-depth look at every aspect of your medical history and lifestyle. This process typically requires you to fill in detailed questionnaires or submit to a physical examination.

If you’re applying for life insurance in 2021, you should expect to face a number of COVID-specific questions, such as whether you or anyone in your household has had the virus or has been advised to self-isolate. Should you answer yes to these questions, your insurance company may require you to have been free of the virus for a certain time period before your coverage begins. Although this period will vary between insurers, it is often between 30 and 60 days.

Another point to bear in mind is the impact of long covid. At present, the long-term health effects of COVID-19 remain unclear, and those left with permanent medical conditions after catching the virus may, in the future, need to declare this as a pre-existing health condition.

When you’re applying for a policy, it’s essential you answer all questions truthfully, as your insurer may refuse to pay out if it discovers you have provided inaccurate or misleading information.

Our Top Picks for Insurers in 2021

The following Life Insurers have streamlined their process according to the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, with fast, fully online application processes.

ProviderBestow
Ladder Life
HavenLife

No medical exam required

Coverage from $50k-$1.5m

Fully online application

Fully-online process for coverage up to $3m

No policy fees, cancel anytime

Save money on premiums with customizable coverage

Apply online — anytime, anywhere

Immediate decision

Great for first time buyers


Applicants may need to wait 60 days to re-file their application if diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 30 days
Assistance may be available to those struggling to make payments
Online application process streamlined, and an option to skip the medical exam

Get Quote
Get Quote
Get Quote

Conclusion

Buying life insurance can be one of the most important financial decisions you ever make, and the process isn’t made any easier if you’re beset by misinformation during a global health emergency. Fortunately, many of the life insurance myths in circulation at present are largely untrue, and most of us will still be able to purchase coverage during the crisis.

We hope we’ve managed to clear up some of the most common misconceptions surrounding COVID-19 and life insurance. However, it’s important to remember that the situation is constantly evolving, which means there may be changes to the way in which companies assess risk in the future. Remember, if you’re concerned about the impact of the virus on your life insurance policy, you can put your mind at ease by calling your provider and getting all the facts.

Top 5 Life Insurance

Lemonade

Lemonade

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HavenLife

HavenLife

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Katy Ward
Written byKaty Ward

Oxford graduate Katy Ward is a seasoned journalist and editor covering personal finance and software topics for Eleven Writing and Top10. Over a 15-year career, Katy has worked with several finance titans, including Barclays, Tandem Bank, and Yahoo! Finance. She writes for BestMoney and enjoys helping readers make sense of the options on the market.‎

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