Do you have HIV and need life insurance? Honestly, to save you a lot of time and energy please understand that your options are limited. Get in touch with someone who knows the limited number of life insurance companies that will offer a policy for someone being treated with AIDS.
Sometimes people ask me about HIV life insurance, and I tell them you don’t need to talk to 20 different agents or insurance company representatives because you probably are aware that there are only a few options to buy life insurance if you have HIV and are being treated for it.
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The Basics About Getting Life Insurance With HIV
Finding affordable life insurance can be daunting no matter what. However, finding life insurance for HIV can be even more daunting due to the pre-existing medical condition that could trigger an early payout from an insurance company. Obviously, life insurance companies are in the business of managing their risks and their business to a profitable level.
They must underwrite the applications they receive from consumers looking to buy life insurance. This means they have to have general guidelines for their agents and underwriters to decide whether they will issue a policy to a particular applicant.
If the life expectancy of a certain individual is shortened due to a medical condition like AIDS, then their options to buy life insurance just take a nose dive.
However, there is good news for AIDS patients who need life insurance.
- Life insurance companies have been under Social Pressure for years to offer some type of HIV life insurance
- Recent studies have indicated that the life expectancy for patients diagnosed with AIDS has increased. There has been more data available in the last few years that have indicated an improved mortality rate for those with HIV.
Life Insurance Options to Consider
Like I mentioned earlier, your medical condition is limiting the choices you have to choose between various life insurance companies. Listed below are the 4 most popular options when considering buying life insurance:
- Group life insurance from your employer – generally the amount of death benefit available in this situation would be around $10,000 if you are the employee, and possibly only up to $5,000 if you are the Spouse or Domestic Partner.
Action Point: If you work for a small employer, then you might be able to ask the business owner to see if they can increase the Death Benefit to up to $50,000 for employees and up to $25,000 for spouses or partners.
- Voluntary life insurance from your employer – this might be your best bet to get a higher death benefit up to $75,000 or $100,000 without evidence of insurability. There are more and more life insurance companies that are promoting their voluntary life insurance program to employers. Some of these companies with even go down to 5 or 10 employees and still offer some type of Guaranteed Death benefit amount to employees. A few of these will also offer a guaranteed amount to spouses or partners.
- Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance – The most common type of insurance coverage that someone can qualify for with HIV is guaranteed issue life insurance. This is the type of life insurance that does not require a medical exam or ask health questions.
Most of these companies have a maximum issue amount of around $10,000 of the death benefit. Of course, these policies are more expensive than normal, but at least an individual with HIV could still get life insurance coverage.
Impact of Medical Advancements on Life Insurance for HIV-Positive Individuals
In recent years, substantial advancements in medical science have revolutionized the treatment landscape for HIV-positive individuals. These progressive steps have not only enhanced the quality of life but also significantly extended the life expectancy of those living with HIV.
This paradigm shift in the management and prognosis of HIV has had a profound impact on various sectors, including the life insurance industry.
Traditionally, obtaining life insurance for HIV-positive individuals was marred by complexities, higher premiums, and limited options due to the perceived heightened risk associated with the condition. Insurers often hesitate due to the uncertainty and severity associated with HIV and its potential progression to AIDS.
However, the advent of advanced antiretroviral therapies (ART) and improved medical protocols have altered this landscape, pushing the insurance industry towards reconsideration and recalibration of their underwriting guidelines and premium structures for HIV-positive applicants.
The new era of HIV treatment focuses on early detection and prompt initiation of ART, minimizing the viral load and maximizing the immune system’s resilience. The impact of these treatments has been monumental, with many HIV-positive individuals now leading healthy, productive lives, marked by life expectancies that closely mirror those without HIV.
The insurance industry, being adaptive and risk-calculative, has acknowledged these medical advancements and the improved prognosis, gradually adapting its policies and offerings to be more inclusive and accommodating.
Underwriting Factors for HIV-Positive People
There are various factors that life insurance companies consider when setting the premiums for individuals who are HIV-positive.
How Advanced Is the HIV Disease?
There are three stages of HIV infection and the process is typically slow. The primary infection or the initial stage of infection is distinguished by flu-like symptoms. The second stage is the longest typically lasting 8-10 years with no symptoms. The third stage is when the body’s immune system is weakened and symptoms are usually caused by other illnesses such as cancer or pneumonia that they have contracted.
If the individual’s HIV turns into AIDS then it is probable that the life insurance company will no longer offer their traditional life insurance coverage to that individual.
What Is the Life Insurance Applicant’s Age?
One of the insurance companies that will consider someone with HIV for a traditional insurance policy requires the patient to be between the ages of 21 and 49, while another company prefers the applicant to be at least 45 years old, and another one requires the person to be 50 years old to get insurance coverage. For the group life insurance and guaranteed insurance plans age mainly affects the life rates but not the underwriting.
What Is the General Health of the Individual With HIV?
Life insurance companies also will want to know how active is the applicant on a daily lifestyle basis and whether are they able to work, hold down a job, etc. They want to see someone who obviously is not on their deathbed, but can still function and can live a physically active lifestyle.
Does the Person Have Other Serious Medical Conditions?
This makes sense that if someone infected with HIV also has pneumonia cancer, or some other disease that could be a result of a weakening immune disease, then the life insurance company may not offer an insurance policy. Another illness related to HIV that concerns life insurance companies is Hepatitis B and C.
Is the Patient Undergoing Treatment?
Life insurance companies also prefer that the applicant is currently taking antiretroviral medication to prolong the life of the individual. Even though there is no cure for the disease, promising results from this type of combination therapy are one of the reasons that life insurance companies began offering life insurance policies to people who tested positive for the HIV virus.
What if You Already Have Life Insurance
If you happen to be one of the lucky ones who already had a life insurance policy prior to being diagnosed with HIV, then by all means do the best you can to continue to pay premiums and keep your life insurance policy in force.
Why Buy Life Insurance if You Have AIDS
HIV or human immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS causes failure of the immune system which allows life-threatening infections to thrive and is a major contributing factor that can lead to premature death.
HIV is primarily transmitted through sexual contact and the exchange of bodily fluids mainly blood to blood exchanges. Sharing needles and syringes from illegal drug use are common cause of blood-to-blood exchanges that result in HIV and eventually AIDS.
For an individual with AIDS who is confronted with the reality of death, buying or having life insurance can serve at least 2 purposes:
- The first purpose of having life insurance is generally for the coverage of funeral and burial costs, which eases the financial burden that the survivors have to cover.
- The second purpose for having life insurance is to provide a financial legacy for those left behind which can be used to pay for any medical debt incurred before death. Having trouble finding health insurance for HIV often leaves many families of HIV/AIDS patients with massive medical debt to pay.
Life insurance provides individuals with HIV and their families the safety of knowing that they will be taken care of in the event of death (whether from HIV or another medical reason).
Other Considerations With a Life Insurance Policy
Beneficiary – This can be a difficult decision for the policy owner for an applicant with medical problems. My recommendation would be to consider making the beneficiary the person most responsible for taking care of any debt obligations, as well as who will be responsible for making potential funeral arrangements. Keep in mind that life insurance proceeds do not go through probate, so the beneficiary will probably be dealing with the life insurance death claim, and not necessarily the Executor of the will.
By the way, if you don’t have a will – get one.
Accelerated Benefit Rider – If the insured is diagnosed with a terminal illness (terminal meaning within 12 to 24 months, depending on the insurer), then some policies will go ahead and pay out sometimes up to 50% of the death benefit. The one caution here is that it is actually sometimes paid out as a loan, and you are charged interest against the loan. If the insured then lives a long time beyond 12 to 24 months, the ongoing interest will lessen the balance of the death benefit once death occurs.
Sell your life insurance policy if you need money now – This is known in the insurance industry as a Viatical Settlement. There are companies that will buy out your life insurance policy so the policy owner can benefit from the proceeds while still alive. This was more commonplace prior to insurance companies offering the Accelerated Benefit Rider.
HIV is a difficult illness to live with and finding life insurance with HIV can also be difficult. An individual that is diagnosed with HIV should look into getting life insurance as soon as they are able before the disease progresses.
Bottom Line: Securing Life Insurance With HIV
Obtaining life insurance with HIV can be challenging due to the perceived heightened risk by insurance providers. However, evolving medical research and societal pressures have prompted some companies to offer HIV-specific policies. Options include group life insurance, voluntary life from employers, and guaranteed issue life insurance.
Underwriting considers factors like the progression of HIV, age, general health, concurrent medical conditions, and ongoing treatments. Holding a pre-existing policy prior to diagnosis is advantageous, and life insurance can alleviate funeral costs and medical debts. Always carefully choose beneficiaries and consider features like the Accelerated Benefit Rider. For immediate funds, viatical settlements might be explored.