Life insurance for HIV sufferers
Many believe life insurance is simply unobtainable if you suffer from HIV and some even cancel their policy upon diagnosis.
Whilst manageable, HIV is an incurable condition which can bring with it complications such as AIDS-defining illnesses which damage the body’s immune system.
This highlights the need for life insurance cover to secure the financial wellbeing of your loved ones should the worst happen.
It’s a common misconception that acquiring life insurance as a HIV sufferer is impossible.
Upon diagnosis, many HIV sufferers cancel their life insurance policy as they believe it’s no longer valid.
Similarly, following a diagnosis, many won’t apply for life insurance as they believe they would be declined.
However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Let us explain how securing HIV life insurance is still very much achievable.
How insurers view HIV has changed
Years ago it was impossible to secure life insurance if you had contracted HIV.
However, thankfully since the introduction of Triple Therapy (HAART) treatment, insurers are now open to offering protection to sufferers.
This development in underwriting is the largest to have taken place over the past 10 years and has resulted in HIV being treated like any other pre-existing medical condition.
Although this change is welcomed, securing life insurance for HIV sufferers still isn’t as straightforward as getting standard cover.
Let’s look at the key considerations and differences between standard life insurance and HIV cover.
The application process
Certain aspects regarding HIV are considered during your application and it’s highly likely your policy will then undergo additional medical underwriting.
An HIV sufferer will not be denied life insurance on their diagnosis alone. If a denial is made it’ll be due to the perceived risk to the insurer.
In order to determine the level of risk involved, the following is considered by insurers during the application process:
- Date of diagnosis
- Treatment administered
- CD4 count
- Viral load
- Any history of drug usage
- History of hepatitis.
It’s likely you’ll have to provide medical evidence regarding the above aspects and have to go through manual underwriting before being accepted.
Newly diagnosed applicants are likely to have their life insurance policy deferred for 6-12 months.
Dependant on the diagnosis date, new cases are likely to go through a 6-12 month deferral period to determine how the disease affects your body and how you respond to treatment.
Providing the information retrieved within this period is favourable, then it’s likely the policy cover can go ahead.
The cost of premiums and cover type
When it comes to life insurance, HIV is classed in the same category as other pre-existing medical conditions, like diabetes and asthma.
Whilst HIV sufferers will be required to pay higher premiums compared with someone with no health issues, the condition is now treated the same as all other pre-existing medical conditions.
This means the life insurance premiums of an HIV sufferer are likely to be similar to those of a diabetic.
Previously the maximum term offered to someone with HIV was 10 years, however, due to medical advances, and developments in underwriting, it’s possible to be offered the same level of cover as a non-sufferer.
Of course, this will be dependant on the stage of your disease and the risk you pose to the insurer. Different insurers will also provide different levels of cover and pricing strategies for sufferers.
Using an independent and FCA registered life insurance broker, such as Reassured, allows you to compare multiple quotes and find the best deal.
Should you run into any problems, our free to use impaired risk team are ready and willing to support you.
HIV and an existing life insurance policy
Long-standing policies (10 years or older) may not be as beneficial to HIV sufferers as a newer policy due to updated underwriting processes and medical advances.
Depending on how long your current cover has been in place, there’s a chance certain terms may have been written into your policy regarding your HIV.
These changes mean that if you were to take out a policy today, your cover could be more comprehensive and your premiums lower.
As a result, if you took out life cover some time ago it may be beneficial to seek out new quotes to replace for your existing policy. Alternatively, speak with your current insurer to see if you can update your existing cover.
Diagnosed during your policy term
Being diagnosed during the policy term doesn’t invalidate your cover, providing you were honest during the application.
Certain occupations bring an increased risk of contracting HIV, such as medical professionals, emergency service workers and the armed forces.
Being diagnosed won’t affect the terms of your existing policy, therefore, if you work in a profession where you’re at higher risk, it’s best to take out life insurance and critical illness cover (see below) to ensure you’re fully protected.
If diagnosed during the term of your policy, you should check the conditions of your cover to ensure HIV is not an exclusion – This is highly unlikely.
As long as it isn’t, you’re not obligated to inform the insurer of your recent diagnosis.
If it’s an exclusion, you should inform your insurer as the policy will no longer be valid and new cover will need to be arranged to meet your new circumstances.
Drug use, HIV and life insurance
Life insurance for HIV sufferers who use drugs will require further testing during the application. People who inject drugs (PWID) may also need to perform a test regardless of their known HIV status.
Whilst only 150 cases of HIV a year are as a result of people injecting drugs, this is still the third highest category of people most likely to contract the disease.
As a result, during the application, you’ll be asked information regarding whether you use drugs.
If declared within the PWID category, you’ll be asked further questions regarding your drug habits. This is likely to result in having to undertake an HIV test.
Will I be required to take an HIV test?
HIV tests may be required during the application under certain circumstances, such as high levels of cover, travel, drug use or previous sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s).
The costs of an HIV test will be covered by the insurer and will take place at either a public or private clinic.
If the results of the test are positive, it’s likely the insurer will defer your application for 6-12 months to determine how the HIV affects your health and how your body responds to treatment.
You’ll not be required to undergo a test if you have already declared yourself HIV positive.
Does an HIV test affect life insurance?
Taking an HIV test won’t affect your life insurance, it’s the outcome of the test which may have an impact.
During the application process, you’ll be asked if you’ve ever had a positive HIV test.
A routine HIV test with a negative result won’t affect your ability to obtain life insurance and there’s no need to declare this.
An HIV test with a positive result could bring with it various implications mentioned within this guide, including deferral, increased premiums and providing medical evidence.
Lying about your HIV status
Any non-disclosure regarding your HIV status during the application will deem your policy invalid. As a result, no pay out will be issued after you’re gone.
Unfortunately, even in 2018, being diagnosed with HIV still brings with it inaccurate connotations.
This fear of judgement, coupled with the possibility of higher premiums, can make it tempting to be dishonest about your HIV status.
Insurers and brokers are not there to pass judgement on you. They’ll never ask irrelevant questions, such as your sexual orientation.
However, failing to be honest with regards to your health can result in your policy being invalidated and risks a pay out being denied.
Critical illness cover and HIV
Contracting HIV when you have critical illness cover in place will result in a pay out to your loved ones.
HIV is one of the illnesses covered by critical illness cover, meaning that if you’re diagnosed with the disease and have this protection in place, you’ll receive a pay out.
These funds could be used to pay for private medical treatment, make the necessary adaptations to your home or to simply enjoy with your family.
Unfortunately, due to the effect HIV has on your immune system, it’s not possible to obtain critical illness cover if you’ve already contracted HIV.
This is due to the increased likelihood of contracting further diseases due to a weaker immune system, meaning you pose too much of a risk to the insurer.
AIDS life insurance
As most people are aware, the biggest risk with regards to HIV is its potential to develop into AIDS-defining disease, which weakens the immune system.
In the same way as HIV, contracting AIDS during the term of your existing life insurance will not invalidate your existing policy providing you were honest at the time of application.
Unfortunately, it’s not currently possible to obtain life insurance if you suffer from AIDS at the point of application.
The exception to this is if you’re aged between 50-85, where it’s possible to take out an over 50s plan without the need to provide any medical information.
Use our impaired risk specialists
Why not save yourself time and money by letting our impaired risk specialists find you the best quotes.
Being treated as a pre-existing medical condition means that it’s now very possible to secure cost-effective life insurance.
However, even specialist insurers will charge differing monthly premiums for the same level of cover.
Using the services of an independent, FCA registered broker allows you to find the most suitable policy to meet your unique needs.
And the best part, our award-winning brokerage service is completely free to use.
HIV life insurance in summary:
- HIV sufferers can still secure life insurance
- The application will need to pass through additional medical underwriting
- Newly diagnosed applicants are likely to have their policy deferred for 6-12 months
- Premiums will be higher compared with those of standard cover
- Policies 10 years or older may be less beneficial than newer policies
- Being diagnosed during the policy doesn’t invalidate your cover
- Insurers can add HIV as an exclusion on your policy
- The insurer may ask you to undergo an HIV test
- Undergoing an HIV test will not affect your life insurance, (although a positive result will)
- Non-disclosure of your condition during the application will invalidate your policy
- You can’t secure critical illness cover if you already have HIV.
Support and advice group links:
- Positively UK: www.positivelyuk.org
- National Aids Trust: www.nat.org.uk
- NHS: www.nhs.uk
- Avert: www.avert.org