The spread of coronavirus – or COVID-19 – has posed an unprecedented global threat over the past few months. In addition to its evolving health implications, there is growing speculation about the impact of the virus on life insurance and other related coverages such as critical illness insurance or disability insurance. We have received questions from our clients regarding the implications of COVID-19 on their coverage and have listed some of our answers below.
- In-force life insurance polices cover claims arising from Coronavirus-related deaths
- No COVID-19 related exclusions currently in new life insurance applications
- Providers may consider adding exclusions on future policies if the current pandemic evolves adversely
- If a covered condition is triggered due to COVID-19, Critical Illness Insurance policies will cover claims, as long as survival period is complete
- Disability insurance will pay out for COVID related illnesses, if the waiting period is met
- Several of our insurance company partners introduce flexible parameters to allow faster life insurance purchases without requiring in-person medical exams
What is COVID-19?
Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan City, China in December 2019 and has since been detected in more than 100 countries. The virus has been named SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes has been named Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in humans and have typically been associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold. The novel Coronavirus (n-COV) is a new strain that has not previously been identified in humans.
Symptoms for COVID-19 have included fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and pneumonia in the lungs, with severe pneumonia cases leading to fatalities. Generally, Coronavirus can cause severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, and those with long-term health conditions like diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and chronic lung disease. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the global outbreak of COVID-19 as a pandemic.
Does COVID-19 affect my existing life insurance policy?
Life Insurance is a contract between an insured individual and an insurance company, whereby the insurance company agrees to pay out a tax-free lump-sum of money to the insured person’s beneficiaries, in case the insured passes away due to an illness or an accident during the life of the policy. If you already have an existing life insurance policy, then the short answer is you will be covered for any claims associated with COVID-19.
In other words, if you were to pass away due to COVID-19 or a Coronavirus-related ailment, your beneficiary will be able to make a claim. The claim would be treated in the same manner as a death caused by any other natural disease or ailment. Life insurance policies do not treat deaths caused by Coronavirus any differently from those caused by any other flu, infectious diseases, or natural causes.
“If you have an existing life insurance policy, your coverage is not impacted by COVID-19.”
I have a deferred insurance policy. Can a COVID-19 claim be paid out during the waiting period?
If you currently have a deferred life insurance policy, owing to a prior health consideration, then any claims associated with COVID-19, will have to wait out the pre-specified deferral period. However, even in such cases, the claim will be treated in the same manner as any other claim for a natural cause of death from an illness or disease.
Will COVID-19 be covered under a new life insurance policy, if I apply now?
At this point, life insurance companies in Canada have not made any changes to the life insurance product or application process to adjust for Coronavirus risks. So life insurance policies will continue to provide coverage for Coronavirus-related deaths for new life insurance applications, once those have been approved.
However, if you have been recently diagnosed with Coronavirus or are currently awaiting diagnosis or treatment of the same, insurance companies will likely defer the approval, until after such treatment or diagnosis is complete. Such a deferral will be similar to deferrals required for any other ongoing health condition or treatment.
Does my travel history to a Coronavirus affected region affect my life insurance application?
As part of standard life insurance applications, most life insurance companies will ask questions about your recent travels in the last year – as well as ask for information on your travel plans for the next twelve months. If you have travelled to a region that has seen a wide outbreak of COVID-19, particularly in the last 1-3 months, then you can expect the insurance company to ask you additional questions. Similarly, any imminent plans to travel to any of COVID-affected regions likewise invites additional questions about such travel plans. In some situations, where travel may indicate elevated risks to Coronavirus, insurance companies may choose to postpone the decision around approving a policy.
Will a COVID-19 claim be paid out under Critical Illness Insurance policies?
A critical illness insurance policy is a contract whereby an insurance company agrees to pay out a one-time lump sum amount to the insured, upon the diagnosis of a specified critical illness and the completion of a survival period; usually 30 days.
COVID-19 by itself is not a covered condition as defined in Critical Illness policies currently sold. Therefore critical illness policies will not payout, purely, on a positive COVID diagnosis. The novel coronavirus is a newly discovered virus strain and the vast majority of people who contract the illness are expected to make a full recovery within a relatively short period of time. However, if a claim is presented for a different covered critical illness (such as a major organ transplant, like a lung transplant) that is attributable to Coronavirus, then it will generally be viewed as a covered condition and insurance companies will consider such claims for approval.
“Insurance companies – generally speaking – do not currently have any policy exclusions for coronavirus or other infectious diseases in their life, critical illness, or disability policies.”
If you are unsure what your policy covers, reach out to our licensed insurance experts. We will help explain your current coverage.
Am I covered for COVID-19 under my disability insurance policy?
Disability insurance products are designed to pay a monthly benefit to replace a loss of earnings if you are unable to work due to illness or injury for the length of the policy, or until you return to work. Typically, there is a waiting period before the benefit payments start. This waiting period can be between 1 to 26 weeks for short term policies or up to 2 years for long term disability insurance policies. Should a Coronavirus diagnosis lead to a loss of income, the insurance companies will make a payment as long as the minimum waiting period is complete. Some companies may even waive the waiting period in the case of a positive diagnosis.
COVID-19 has been declared by the WHO to be a pandemic. Are there any exclusions on life insurance policies associated with pandemics that insurance providers may introduce in the future?
A pandemic is a global outbreak of disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Most life insurance policies currently do not have a disease-related exclusion. The standard exclusions pertain to suicide/self-inflicted harm or criminal activity.
Currently, there are not any exclusions on coronavirus-related deaths. However, insurance companies continue to monitor the outbreak and they reserve the right to make any changes in their product or processes in the future.
Should I be buying insurance on my life or health at this time?
Regardless of this health scare, you should be buying the appropriate amount of insurance coverage to protect you and your family at the earliest time you can. Such coverage only gets more expensive with age.
COVID-19 is a reminder that life events can emerge quite quickly and it is prudent to secure coverage ahead of time. This is just as important a time as any other to protect those that depend on you for financial health. If you would like to discuss your insurance needs, our advisors are available to assist you.
Can I apply for life insurance coverage without having to meet an advisor or undergo a medical test?
Like many other Canadians at this time, you may be practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of Coronavirus to your loved ones and community. While this may lead you to believe you cannot obtain life insurance coverage at this time, that assumption is false.
As Canada’s leading online life insurance brokers, the team at PolicyAdvisor has made finding life insurance quotes and buying life insurance an easy, quick and online process for consumers like yourself that seek the convenience of a non-face-to-face meeting to assess insurance needs. Our life insurance needs calculator can help shed light on your specific insurance requirements from couch or kitchen table.
Our innovative algorithm parses through 100s of insurance products so you can find the best insurance policy and options for your needs. Our licensed insurance advisors are available online to answer any questions, curate your insurance choices, and help complete the application for you – all fully online.
While many life insurance products require a medical test, we have partnered with some of Canada’s leading insurance companies to arrange for life insurance coverage up to $1 million, without requiring an in-person, medical exam. We also have access to several non-medical insurance products; the coverage can be fully obtained without meeting with a medical representative.
You don’t have to wait for the self-isolation period to be over for financial protection. You can get covered from the comfort of your home as you practice social distancing – like so many of us are doing in the coming weeks to protect our communities and those most vulnerable.