November 27, 2021
  • November 27, 2021

COVID life insurance and vaccines

By on September 13, 2021 0

People who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 are much more likely to die from the virus. But that reality won’t – at least for now – hurt their chances of being approved for a life insurance policy, or affect the premiums they pay.

This puts life insurance on a different footing from company-provided health insurance, at least as offered by some employers. Delta Airlines made headlines last month when it announced it would impose a surcharge of $ 200 per month on employees who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The company said the revenues would be used to offset the company’s costs for medical treatments and sick leave for unvaccinated workers.

Experts expect more employers to weigh in on the imposition of such health care supplements, as “vaccine hesitancy” persists and the cost of treating drug-resistant drug-resistant continues to rise.

Yet so far – with the exception of applicants older than the norm – whether or not you are vaccinated for COVID-19 vaccines is largely not an issue when it comes to insurance – life. “Insurance companies do not require proof of vaccination as a condition of approval for coverage,” says Scottsdale, Az. life insurance agent Chris Huntley.

Assaf Henkin, president and chief operating officer of online life insurance broker Sproutt agrees, adding that there is also “no evidence that insurers or reinsurers are using [COVID-19 vaccination status] for pricing decisions. Therefore, Sproutt does not ask if people are vaccinated against the virus as part of the pre-approval process he uses to help introduce clients to the insurers he works with.

The industry’s apparent disinterest in COVID-19 vaccinations comes despite recent studies showing unvaccinated Americans are 15 to 67 times more likely to die from the virus than those who have received their vaccines. Which give?

Why life insurers ignore vaccinations

For starters, it may help to clarify that life insurers don’t skip asking people for their COVID-19 vaccinations for a clear legal reason. While the legality of health insurance surcharges could potentially be challenged in court, it appears they are authorized by employers, like Delta, who self-fund their plans. And those same laws don’t apply to life insurance anyway. “I don’t know of any laws that prohibit life insurance companies from asking questions about COVID vaccination status,” says Michael Giusti of InsuranceQuotes.com, who has written among the most comprehensive reports on COVID-19 and the assurance.

On the contrary, the life insurance industry does not appear to view COVID-19 as a continuing threat significant enough to most of its potential clients to disrupt its practices. “I guess they think it’s a short-term problem, not a big enough killer to change their insurance demand [processes] or pricing, ”says Chris Huntley, Arizona-based insurance agent and blogger. Huntley also considers COVID-19 vaccinations to be among “dozens of variables [insurers] might consider their price, but don’t.

The approach to COVID-19 injections is also consistent with how the industry treats inoculations of all kinds, says Laura McKiernan Boylan, head of underwriting solutions at Haven Life. “In general, vaccines aren’t factored into buying life insurance,” Boylan said in a recent article Haven wrote for his website.

That, she adds, means that your life insurer does not assess your vaccination history before determining whether or not to issue you a policy. You don’t need to list your vaccines when you apply for life insurance online, she says, or provide vaccine records if you’re taking a life insurance medical exam.

Well-worn practice also plays a role in their approach to COVID-19 vaccinations, explains Huntley. Life insurers are loath to change the way they do business because it disrupts the prudent actuarial formulas that underpin their decisions, he says. “Insurance companies take a very long-term pricing approach and rarely change their rates, even when there is good evidence to do so.”

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Ways COVID-19 vaccines may still matter for insurance

Vaccination status is, however, taken into account for life insurance customers who are older (and sometimes sicker as well) than is typical for coverage primarily aimed at young and middle-aged people. Seniors – those in their 60s and over – who contract COVID-19 are at least nine times more likely to die than those in their 40s, according to the Federal Center for Disease Control.

Henkin says Sproutt says many insurance companies require proof of vaccination for applicants over the age of 80 or over 60 with a medical condition before granting policies. However, the trend does not change the prequalification regime of the company. “Since the average Sproutt customer is unlikely to fall into either category, this is not yet a factor in our assessment process,” says Henkin.

Getting vaccinated may allow those who were denied coverage during the pandemic to have a second chance for coverage, Boylan predicts. Some insurers have chosen during the pandemic to limit or eliminate underwriting policies for people with conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, due to the risk of comorbidity if the patient also contracts COVID-19. If you can now prove you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19, she says, insurers might be more likely to offer you a life insurance policy. “The COVID vaccine could reopen coverage,” she predicts.

And it is possible that the COVID-19 vaccination status will become more important for life insurance in the future, several experts have said. “If vaccines make you live longer, people who get vaccinated will end up getting lower rates,” says Giusti.

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