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March 15, 2020

Does life insurance cover coronavirus?

If you’re applying for life insurance, a global health crisis like the coronavirus can have consequences for your policy. But if you’re already covered, your family will be paid out the death benefit in the event that you pass away from a pandemic illness

Life insurance offers financial protection for your loved ones in the event that you die unexpectedly.

When a pandemic becomes world news, you may start to consider the necessity of purchasing a policy or wonder how news of an outbreak might shape the policy you already have.

A global health crisis like the widespread COVID-19 outbreak that began in late 2019 can make applying for life insurance more complicated. But as long as you have an active policy in place, if you were to die of a pandemic illness, your family would still receive the death benefit, even if you had knowingly traveled to areas with a known disease outbreak.

Essentially, life insurance covers pandemics, assuming you were truthful about your travel plans and exposure to illness during the application process.

Applying for life insurance during the coronavirus outbreak

While the long-term ramifications of COVID-19 aren’t yet known, its rapid spread around the globe has many on high alert. Barring any major changes, however, it’s likely that the coronavirus will have a larger impact on people who are applying for a life insurance policy than those who already have a policy in place.

“The most immediate implication coronavirus has on life insurance is on applicants. If you’re applying for life insurance now and planning a trip to a country that’s heavily impacted by the disease, you’ll likely need to wait until after your return to complete your application,” explains Nicholas Mancuso, manager of the disability and advanced planning team. “But if you already have life insurance, and you die from coronavirus, your beneficiary will still receive the survivor benefit.”

Depending on the life insurance company, there is a chance that your application for life insurance could be affected if you’re traveling to an impacted area.

Though some life insurance companies have no changes in their application approval based on the current spread of the virus, many insurers may postpone application approval if:

  • You have traveled to China within the last 30 days
  • You have future plans to travel to China
  • You have recently returned from Wuhan Province
  • You are have recently traveled to or are planning to travel to areas more recently affected by the virus, such as Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam
  • You have future plans to travel outside the U.S. or have recently returned from travel outside the U.S.

Additionally, some life insurance companies may postpone your application if you have a member of your household who has recently returned from travel outside the U.S. or if you have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. You may also be required to provide a statement of good health for a new or pending life insurance application.

How each life insurance company will treat your application if you happen to contract the coronavirus will also vary. Insurers may reject your application or postpone your offer for up to 90 days or until you have made a full recovery.

As the nature and impact of the coronavirus continues to develop, how insurers approach life insurance applications and policies could change. 

However, for the time being, your best bet on getting the best life insurance policy is to shop around as well as cancel any unnecessary travel to affected areas.o

While one life insurance company may not offer you a policy based on your recent travel, others may offer you optimal coverage at competitive rates. An advisor can work with you for free to help you shop around for the right life insurance policy.

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  • Life insurance policies already in place likely won’t see any changes due to a pandemic like COVID-19
  • People applying for life insurance policies during a pandemic should be completely honest about any past or future travel plans, otherwise their policy may be invalidated
  • How each life insurance company will respond to life insurance applications during the coronavirus outbreak varies across insurers and it’s best practice to shop around for a life insurance policy that accommodates your individual needs

No medical exam life insurance

During the current coronavirus pandemic, some states are prohibiting in-house medical exams as an added safety precaution. While a no medical exam life insurance policy can be costlier and might not always offer optimal coverage, you have a few policy options that don’t necessitate a medical exam:

It’s important to note that getting a policy that doesn’t require a medical exam still requires recent medical records and doesn’t necessarily shorten the life insurance application process. If you want a faster turnaround time after you apply, you’ll have to get a plan with accelerated underwriting. An accelerated application also doesn’t require a medical exam, but not everyone qualifies for accelerated underwriting, and applications can be rejected without clear reasons as to why.

What is a pandemic?

According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is the global spread of a newly introduced disease, while an epidemic is when a disease is constrained to one region.

Pandemics of the past, such as the 1918 Spanish flu, have been famously deadly. But thanks to modern medicine and proper intervention, there are now many more tools for tracking and preventing pandemics. Regardless, pandemics tend to cause some uncertainty and it’s important to think about setting up a financial plan like life insurance.

How life insurance companies treat pandemics

Because your health and medical history are determining factors in what type of policy premiums you pay for life insurance, it’s reasonable to assume that a global health crisis like the coronavirus would have some impact on your policy if you’re currently in the application process (or thinking of starting it).

Coupled with the risk-averse nature of life insurance companies, anytime there’s a chance that an individual’s risk of mortality has increased, insurers are probably going to either hold off on insuring you or you are going to pay higher life insurance premiums on your policy.

However if you already have life insurance in place, you’re covered. In the rare event you were to die from a pandemic illness, your beneficiaries would still receive the policy’s death benefit.

Recent life insurance applications

If you recently purchased a life insurance policy and did not disclose travel plans to an area affected by a pandemic like COVID-19 on your application, or lied about contracting the illness, then there is cause for concern.

Life insurance policies have something called the contestability period, usually the first two years after your policy goes in force, during which the life insurance company can revisit any information you may have misrepresented during the application process.

If you withhold information about your travel to a high-risk country, contract the disease in question, and pass away from it, the life insurance company can refuse to pay out the death benefit to your beneficiaries.

While the contestability period is the time when a life insurance company is most likely to investigate claims for any potential fraud, if your insurer finds out that you lied after this period they can still withhold the death benefit from your beneficiaries.

If you are applying for a life insurance policy and have travel plans to an affected area or have gotten sick, it’s important to be honest about this — and everything else — during the underwriting process so that you don’t risk the invalidation of your policy.

Should you get life insurance during a pandemic?

While the short and easy answer is yes, it shouldn’t take a global health crisis to instate necessary financial protection for you and your family. A pandemic doesn’t mean end times, and the likelihood that you will die due to causes influenced by your local environment is actually a lot higher than dying from a pandemic illness.

Life insurance is a risk management tool, so anytime you have outstanding debts or people who depend on you for income, you should have a life insurance policy in place to protect your loved ones from financial suffering if you die unexpectedly and prematurely.

Protect what matters most with affordable and flexible life insurance coverage.

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