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HIV Life Insurance

Important !

This article is for guidance/informative purposes only and should not be taken as financial advice. As always, if you are ever unsure towards any financial service or product then please seek independent financial advice.



HIV Life cover

Life insurance is now becoming more widely available to people who are HIV positive

Introduction

More 100,000 people in the UK are living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)* and as medical advancements in this area continue to develop, more people suffering from the condition are living longer and healthier lives.

Such progression in the treatment and management of HIV has resulted in more insurance providers willing to provide life insurance for HIV positive people and giving those looking for a good deal, much greater choice.

*(source:http://www.nat.org.uk/HIV-Facts/Statistics/Latest-UK-Statistics.aspx)


The Need for Life Insurance for HIV positive people

Like any other sector of the community, people with HIV want to ensure that their loved ones and dependants are financially secure after their death.

For those with HIV, death is a very real fear and how standard overheads such as the mortgage and the food bill will be paid is of great concern. And this makes the need for affordable and reliable life insurance cover for some HIV sufferers essential.


The Impact of a Pre Existing Condition on Life Insurance Premiums

One of the key issues when choosing life insurance for any individual is the cost of the policy. And a pre-existing condition can have a significant impact on the overall affordability of any life insurance.

Taking out an insurance policy when you have HIV means that your condition is pre-existing, i.e. that you were aware of the illness before the policy was taken out.

“Having HIV will also drastically limit the number of life assurance providers who are willing to offer any type of life insurance policy.”

When these pre-existing conditions do occur, the applicant is placed in a higher risk category than someone without any medical history and the financial compensation, in the form of premiums, to reflect this increased risk are also significantly higher.

However, in the case of HIV, the pre-existing condition can do more than simply increase the price of the premiums. Having HIV will also drastically limit the number of insurance providers who are willing to offer any type of life insurance policy. And, for those that do have the facilities to offer life cover to HIV sufferers, the level of information required before the policy is issued can be significant.


Information Requirements for HIV Sufferers

Historically, the link between HIV and homosexuality has meant that people with HIV have had to open themselves up to intrusive questioning about their sexuality and personal relationship circumstances.

Thanks to changes in the practice guidelines issued by the Association of British Insurers, questions surrounding the sexuality of an applicant are now actively discouraged and no individual should be forced to pay higher insurance premium based on their sexual orientation.


Completing HIV related Questions on the Life Insurance Application Form

Though there are no longer questions on a life insurance policy application form regarding sexuality, there are still two questions on a standard life insurance application form relating to HIV.

Exposure to HIV

Almost all life insurance application forms will question whether the applicant has been exposed to HIV in the past five years. This does not solely pertain to risky sexual activity, it also covers exposure through intravenous drug admission or the acceptance of a blood transfusion outside the EU.

Positive HIV Test

Positive HIV testThe second question on the standard life insurance application form relates to whether the applicant has ever tested positive to any test for HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.

A positive answer to either of these questions can significantly impact the type of cover that is available and significantly delay the time it takes for the life insurance to start.


HIV Testing for Live Insurance Cover

If an applicant has responded positively to either basic question relating to HIV on a life insurance application form, they are likely to be required to carry out an HIV test as part of an over medical review.

Furthermore, if an applicant has spent time in a country where HIV is prevalent or indicated that their mother had HIV whilst pregnant, an insurance company is within their rights to request such a procedure.

Initially the HIV test will assess whether the applicant is a carrier of the HIV virus. As almost 1 in 5 of HIV carriers in the US are unaware that they have the disease, results of an HIV can come as a huge shock (source: Spectator.co.uk).

If the test is positive, the results will also provide information on current CD4 levels and viral load intensities.

CD4 Levels

These are a vital indicator in assessing the current status of a HIV sufferer and how effective their treatment is.
A lower CD4 count will indicate the HIV is less under control or in a more advanced stage, therefore indicating the likelihood of a greater risk to the assurance provider.

“A lower CD4 count will indicate the HIV is less under control or in a more advanced stage, therefore indicating the likelihood of a greater risk to the insurance provider.”

However a higher CD4 count, or increasing level in relation to historical data, can be a very positive indicator.

Some insurance providers will limit their coverage to those with a CD4 count over a minimum limit while others may withdraw their cover if the CD4 falls below a stated level.

As a rule of thumb, most insurance companies will require a minimum CD4 count around 250 but this can vary between providers and the policies offered.

Viral Load

This indicates the level of virus in the body demonstrating the degree to which the body is still able to fight infection.

The higher the viral load, the greater the perceived risk to any life insurance provider. However a pattern of reduced viral load represents effective management of the condition.

Further information required by an insurance company will include the type of treatment any applicant is receiving, how effective that treatment has been and whether any further side effects have been experienced as a result of the underlying condition or the treatment being used.

These factors will be collated by the insurance company and used to assess the individual’s overall eligibility for life cover and the price of the insurance premiums relating to it.


What to Do If You Have Been Asked to Take an HIV Test for Life Assurance

Any life insurance company that requests an applicant take an HIV test must have a genuine and justifiable reason for doing so.

If you are requested to take an HIV test for life insurance and you do feel it is unjustified, then write to the insurance provider requesting the reasons why such a request has been made.

If you do not wish to take the test, then it is acceptable to refuse, however it is likely that the application for life insurance will be rejected.

If you do wish to continue and take the test then a number of procedures must be followed:

Preparation:

Consultation with GP
Before the test is taken the insurance company will ask you to supply the name of an individual with formal medical qualifications to whom, with your permission, any positive result will be advised.

Traditionally this would be a GP or HIV counsellor. However if no such person is available to you then the HIV centre where the test should be able to appoint one.

The Test:

Each insurance company will appoint their own HIV test centre where the test will be carried out, and you will be advised of its location. The test itself may be carried out via a blood test, a mouth swab or an oral mucosal transudate (OMT) and is a relatively unobtrusive procedure.

The Results:

Like any test, there is a degree of error within the HIV testing procedure, with the OMT usually experiencing the greatest level of inaccuracy. If, for any reason, you feel your results are inaccurate, then it is possible to request a second test, possibly with a more precise form of assessment.

Whatever the results, HIV tests are always confidential which means all information relating to your test will only ever be provided to the applicant. It is then the responsibility of the applicant to give permission for the insurance application to proceed.

If you feel unwilling to disclose the results to your insurance company then you can withhold the information. Though the offer of insurance is likely to be withdrawn at this point.

If the HIV test is positive, and you wish to proceed with your life insurance application, the tester will notify the Head Underwriter within the relevant institution. These details are then passed on to the Chief Medical Officer who will notify your appointed medical professional so that a counselling session can be set up. Once this meeting has occurred, the insurer will then send written notification of their decision as to whether they will offer HIV Positive Life Insurance Cover and at what price.

This is a procedure which can take some time, which means applying for life insurance when HIV positive may take up to 6-9 months.


The Availability of Life Cover for HIV Positive People

Historically, any person who tested positive for HIV would have been denied any type of life insurance cover. However, as more is known about the disease and the way it operates, the greater the willingness of insurance companies to offer life insurance for HIV Positive People.

As with any life cover, for someone with a pre-existing condition such as hiv, the cost of the hiv life insurance will depend on your individual circumstances as well as the competitiveness within the insurance market to provide such policies.

“As the number of providers increases, the willingness of insurance companies to offer more effective HIV life cover at more competitive premiums continues to improve.”

Currently there are very few insurance companies that regularly offer life insurance for people with HIV which means insurance premiums are not cheap. However as the number of providers increases, the willingness of insurance companies to offer more effective cover at more competitive premiums continues to improve.

Most HIV life insurance cover on offer today comes with some very tight constraints:

The cover provided will usually be for a fixed sum which can vary and is usually offered for a limited period of time.

When the policy is due to lapse, it is up to the applicant to reapply for further cover at which time a new assessment will take place.

Currently the minimum age for applying for life assurance for HIV positive people is 18, with an upper age of 60. But this requirement does change depending on the provider in question.

This type of life insurance is limited solely to people with HIV. If the applicant tests positive for AIDS, or any illness which would indicate that they are an AIDS carrier, then no current life insurance company will provide cover.


The Next Steps

If you are seeking competitive life insurance cover when HIV positive then please click the button above to compare life insurance quotes, or alternatively complete the enquiry form below.

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Further Resources:
Terrence Higgins Trust – http://www.tht.org.uk/
National Aids Trust – http://www.nat.org.uk/
Patient – http://www.patient.co.uk/health/hiv-and-aids