Income protection insurance for people with HIV

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Key points

  • Some short-term policies are available for people doing well on HIV treatment.
  • If your employer offers income protection as an employee benefit, your HIV status will not usually be an issue.
  • If you took out a policy before being diagnosed with HIV, it should still be valid.

Income protection insurance is designed to support you financially if you can’t work due to illness or injury and your income drops. This type of policy is particularly relevant if you are self-employed and wouldn’t get sick pay. Payments will usually be an agreed percentage of your income.

Some income protection policies will make payments for as long as they are needed. On the other hand, short-term policies will make payments for a maximum of one or two years.

Can you take out an income protection policy if you have HIV?

In general, no. If you have been diagnosed with HIV, you will not be eligible for most income protection policies as an individual.

Some short-term policies are available from specialist insurance brokers, at an increased cost. They usually exclude claims for HIV-related illnesses during the first year or two of having the policy.

It’s not a good idea to withhold information about your HIV status or to lie when applying for insurance. Insurance can be cancelled for non-disclosure. You risk wasting money on a policy that will not pay out when you make a claim. Insurance companies are bound by data protection law and must keep your medical information strictly confidential.

Can you get income protection through your employer if you have HIV?

Some employers offer income protection as part of an employee benefits package. This is sometimes called group income protection.

In general, individual employees don’t need to complete medical questionnaires. Having HIV does not exclude you from coverage in most group policies.

An exception could be if your salary (and therefore potential benefit) is above a level that is set in the policy. You might then need to complete a medical questionnaire and you would be unlikely to get cover.

If your employer offers income protection as a benefit and you do not feel comfortable sharing the completed application with your employer, you could ask to submit it directly to the insurer or broker in confidence.

Will an income protection policy still be valid if you are diagnosed with HIV?

If you took out a policy before you were diagnosed with HIV, it’s worth checking the wording of your policy. In many cases, you will continue to be covered, so long as you continue to pay the premiums.

To be sure, you could write to the insurer, explaining when you took out the policy and when you were diagnosed, and ask whether you will continue to be covered.

If the policy is still valid, it may well be a good idea to hang on to it. If you cancel it and then decide at a later date that you would like to be insured, it will be hard to get cover. Don’t cancel the policy without thinking carefully and getting professional advice.

Will an income protection policy cover an HIV-related illness?

Most modern income protection policies do not exclude HIV and you will be able to claim if you are unable to work due to an HIV-related illness. However, older policies may only cover you if you are unable to work due to injury or illness that is not linked with HIV.

To find out whether a policy covers HIV or not, check the conditions and exclusions.

For more information

The Money Advice Service website provides free and impartial money advice.

While we cannot recommend any particular provider, some insurance brokers specialising in cover for people with pre-existing conditions include Cura (0800 567 7450, www.specialrisksbureau.co.uk), Moneysworth (01625 462 744, www.moneysworth.co.uk) and Unusual Risks (0845 474 3074, www.unusualrisks.co.uk).

This page reflects the personal finance market in the UK.

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