HIV and Life Insurance
In this article, we wanted to take a moment to answer some of the most common questions we get from folks applying for life insurance after they have been diagnosed with HIV
Questions that will be addressed will include:
- Can I qualify for life insurance after I’ve been diagnosed with HIV?
- Why do life insurance companies care if I’ve been diagnosed with HIV?
- What kind of information will the insurance companies ask me or be interested in?
- What rate (or price) can I qualify for?
- What if I can’t qualify for a traditional term life insurance policy?
- What can I do to help ensure that I get the “best life insurance” for me?
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Can I qualify for life insurance after I’ve been diagnosed with HIV?
Here’s a question that would have been much easier to answer 5 to 10 years ago when the answer to this question would have been categorically… NO!
The good news is…
Many things have changed over the past couple of decades when it comes to helping those who have become infected with the HIV virus. As a result, individuals who become HIV positive are living longer and longer to the point where HIV is now being considered a “chronic” condition rather than a terminal illness.
Most life insurance companies are still only beginning to acknowledge this “change”; there are a few “pro-active” insurance companies that have begun to accept applicants.
Why do life insurance companies care if I’ve been diagnosed with HIV?
Life insurance companies “care” if an individual has been diagnosed with HIV because when left untreated, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can become AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) which, as all know, can become deadly if not aggressively treated with anti-retroviral therapy.
Even though HIV may be considered a “chronic” medical condition by many health professionals, being able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy is still going to be tough because of just how serious the consequences can be when an individual isn’t extremely diligent about their treatment!
Why, before getting approved for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy, you’re most likely going to need to submit all your medical records to the life insurance companies and answer a long list of medical questions.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is a virus that attacks the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections and diseases. HIV can be transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. It is most commonly spread through sexual contact or through sharing needles or other drug injection equipment.
There are two main types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is the most common and most severe form of the virus, while HIV-2 is less common and typically less severe.
HIV is a chronic condition, meaning it cannot be cured. However, with proper treatment, people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. Treatment for HIV involves taking medications called antiretroviral therapy (ART) to suppress the virus and prevent it from replicating. ART can help reduce the amount of HIV in the body (called the “viral load”) to very low levels, which can help prevent the transmission of HIV to others and help prevent HIV-related illnesses.
AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. It is a serious condition that is caused by HIV. HIV damages the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections and diseases. When the immune system becomes severely damaged, and the body can no longer fight off infections, a person is said to have AIDS.
AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. People with AIDS have a very weak immune system and are at high risk of developing serious infections and certain cancers.
AIDS is not the same as HIV. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, while AIDS is a syndrome (a set of symptoms) that occurs when the immune system is severely damaged and the body can no longer fight off infections.
What kind of information will the insurance companies ask me or be interested in?
When it comes to being able to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy, you’re going to need to be perfect in every way other than the fact that you’ve tested positive for HIV and you meet the following prerequisites:
- Fall between the ages of 30 to 65 at the time of your application.
- Self-admit your diagnosis, so be honest and upfront from the very beginning.
- Frequently see your primary care physician regularly.
- Minimum 5 years of compliance with ART (anti-retroviral therapy), with no lapses or delays in treatment.
- CD4 count of 350 cells/mm3 or higher for at least 2 years
- Current and prior two-year viral loads must be undetectable (<20 copies/ml or below current detectable laboratory limits). Thus, the need to self-admit during your application, and not having a life insurance company “discover” you’re HIV positive by the medications you have been prescribed.
- Current negative hepatitis B and hepatitis C testing.
But be warned…
Even in cases where you might meet all of these “minimum” requirements, you still may find yourself unable to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy.
This is why we here at IBUSA like to have a few life insurance underwriters “preliminarily” check an individual’s application before we “officially” submit it so that we don’t unnecessarily waste anyone’s time if it looks like you won’t be able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy.
What rate (or price) can I qualify for?
Now assuming that you meet all of the prerequisite requirements and you meet all of the additional requirements needed to qualify for a traditional term or whole life insurance policy, it’s pretty safe to say that you will still be considered a “high risk” application.
Which means that…
Of the 14 different rate classes an individual might be able to qualify for, you’re probably not going to be able to qualify for any of the “top 10”. That said, however, this doesn’t automatically mean that your life insurance policy is going to be outrageously expensive, it just means that you’re probably going to have to spend more for your insurance than an average individual who hasn’t been diagnosed with a serious pre-existing medical condition such as HIV.
What if I can’t qualify for a traditional term life insurance policy?
If you are unable to qualify for a traditional term life insurance policy, you may still have options for coverage. Here are a few alternatives you might consider:
Guaranteed issue life insurance: This type of policy does not require a medical exam or health questions. It is typically more expensive than other types of life insurance and may have a waiting period before it pays out, but it can be a good option for those who are unable to qualify for traditional coverage due to health issues.
Guaranteed issue life insurance policies will also contain a graded death benefit which will limit when your policy will begin covering natural causes of death.
- No medical exam or health questions required
- Can be a good option for those who are unable to qualify for traditional coverage due to health issues
- More expensive than other types of life insurance
- May have a waiting period before it pays out (e.g. 2-3 years)
- Benefit amount may be limited (e.g. $25,000-$50,000)
Accidental death insurance: This type of policy pays out a benefit if you die as the result of an accident. It is typically less expensive than other types of life insurance and may be easier to qualify for, but it does not provide coverage for deaths from other causes.
- May be easier to qualify for than other types of life insurance
- Typically less expensive than other types of life insurance
- Provides coverage for accidental deaths, which can be a significant risk for some individuals (e.g. those with dangerous jobs or hobbies)
- Does not provide coverage for deaths from other causes (e.g. illness, natural causes)
- Benefit amount may be limited
Group life insurance: Many employers offer group life insurance as a benefit to their employees. If you are unable to qualify for individual coverage, you may be able to get coverage through your employer.
- May be easier to qualify for than individual coverage
- Typically less expensive than individual coverage
- Can be a valuable employee benefit
- Coverage may be limited (e.g. 1-2 times salary)
- May not be portable (i.e. you lose coverage if you leave your job)
What can I do to help ensure that I get the “best life insurance” for me?
There are three things that you can do to make sure that you increase your chances of being able to find the best life insurance policy that you can qualify for.
The first thing that you can do is make sure that you choose to work with a life insurance agent that fully understands your condition and knows what a life insurance underwriter will be looking for when making their decision about your application.
The second thing…
That you’re going to want to do is make sure that the agent that you choose to work with has access to dozens of different top-rated life insurance companies. After all, even the best life insurance agent in the country isn’t going to be all that great for you if he or she doesn’t have access to the policies or companies that are going to be the most “lenient” towards individuals who have been diagnosed with or tested positive for HIV.
You want to make sure that you choose a life insurance agent that is really good at explaining things.
And by explaining things we mean that you want to make sure that your life insurance agent not only explains the “type” of life insurance options that will be available to you but also why one life insurance company might be better for you than another.
So now we’ve got to ask…
“what are you waiting for?”
Give us a call today so that we can show you what we can do for you!
Now, will we be able to help out everyone who has been previously tested positive for HIV?
No, probably not. But what we can tell you is that in addition to offering a wide variety of different term and whole life insurance policies, IBUSA has also worked very hard to establish relationships with many of the Top Final Expense Companies as well so that if someone isn’t able to qualify for a traditional life insurance policy, chances are there may be some other “type” of product that you CAN qualify for!