‘Significant reduction’ in the availability of life insurance for people with HIV due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Image: Domizia Salusest | www.domiziasalusest.com

The availability of life insurance for people living with HIV in the UK has dropped significantly this year, according to a specialist life insurance and mortgage adviser. This could lead to people living with HIV accessing life insurance at higher premiums or not being able to get it at all.

Research from Unusual Risks (a leading HIV life insurance and mortgage adviser in the UK) shows that over recent months, many life insurance providers have restricted the availability of life insurance to people living with HIV. The findings showed that:

  • Four of the 12 (33%) leading life insurance providers are currently offering life insurance to people living with HIV. 
  • None of the 18 (0%) top banks and building societies are currently offering life insurance to people living with HIV.
  • Therefore, four of the 30(13%) providers are currently offering life insurance to people living with HIV.

Last year 70% of providers surveyed were offering life insurance and that figure had risen to 90% earlier this year. The sudden restrictions have been attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and also affect people with other chronic conditions, including diabetes and hepatitis C.

Glossary

diabetes

A group of diseases characterized by high levels of blood sugar (glucose). Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce insulin, which is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body either does not produce enough insulin or does not use insulin normally (insulin resistance). Common symptoms of diabetes include frequent urination, unusual thirst and extreme hunger. Some antiretroviral drugs may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

body mass index (BMI)

Body mass index, or BMI, is a measure of body size. It combines a person's weight with their height. The BMI gives an idea of whether a person has the correct weight for their height. Below 18.5 is considered underweight; between 18.5 and 25 is normal; between 25 and 30 is overweight; and over 30 is obese. Many BMI calculators can be found on the internet.

The results show that people with HIV may be declined life insurance cover through 'mainstream' brokers, life insurers, banks and building societies. As well as changes to accessibility, there have been changes to premium rates and criteria, which may impact the average amount that is assured.

“This is certainly a backward step that takes us back to the earliest days of the launch of HIV life assurance products in 2009,” noted Chris Morgan of Unusual Risks. The company assesses the availability of life assurance products to people living with HIV in the UK annually and will review the latest research statistics periodically over the next 12 months.

Specialist insurance advisers and brokers believe that the accessibility of life insurance will return to normal for people living with HIV. However, people with a high BMI (overweight or obese) or have diabetes may have ongoing problems accessing life insurance, if links are established between these issues and COVID-19.

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