Does critical illness insurance cover COVID-19?
Critical illness insurance policies may cover up to 26 diseases or illnesses. This insurance provides a lump-sum payment if you should be diagnosed with one of these illnesses. While COVID-19 is not a covered condition, other illnesses or conditions caused by COVID-19 may be covered by critical illness insurance.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 1.5 million Canadians have been diagnosed with the rapidly spreading virus and tens of thousands of people have died from it. The scale of the virus—in Canada and the world—has had enormous repercussions on healthcare systems, economies, and societies in general. In addition to this, the pandemic has raised new and important questions for life insurance providers and people with life insurance and critical illness insurance coverage.
Though the COVID-19 situation is ongoing and continually changing, we want to shed some light on how the virus factors into existing and new critical illness insurance policies. Looking at whether you can get COVID-19 insurance coverage, whether a previous diagnosis will exclude you from critical illness insurance policies, and more.
What is COVID-19?
Though the terms coronavirus and COVID-19 are often used interchangeably, there is an important distinction. COVID-19 is the disease caused by SARS-Cov-2, which is a strain of coronavirus. Named because of its emergence in 2019, COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is highly infectious. While many COVID-19 infections result in mild to moderate respiratory symptoms, the disease can also cause serious and even fatal symptoms, such as respiratory failure, kidney failure, organ damage, and more.
COVID-19 has been shown to present a higher health risk to people with underlying health conditions, such as respiratory diseases, diabetes, cancer, and other immune weakening illnesses. There is also evidence that the virus can cause long-term side-effects (this is known as long COVID), such as fatigue, joint pain, and shortness of breath. While there is still much unknown about the long-term effects of COVID-19, the persisting symptoms of the virus are thought to increase the risk of long-term health problems for recovered COVID-19 patients.
What is critical illness insurance?
Critical illness insurance is a type of coverage offered by life insurance companies (typically as an add-on to a life insurance policy, but can also be purchased as a stand-alone policy) that pays out a tax-free lump sum should the insured be diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or suffer a serious health event while the policy is active. Unlike traditional life insurance, critical illness insurance issues a benefit while the insured is alive, providing them and their family with financial support as they manage the financial and health impact of a life-threatening illness. It should be noted that the critical illness insurance benefit is only paid if the insured is diagnosed with a covered illness, as specified in the policy. The proceeds of the insurance can be used fully at the discretion of the insured.
Does critical illness insurance cover COVID-19?
COVID-19 is not listed as a covered condition for critical illness insurance. This means that a COVID-19 diagnosis alone will not qualify you for a critical illness insurance claim. This is largely due to the fact that not only is the virus strain new, but it also has a high recovery rate, with many people only suffering mild to moderate symptoms.
That being said, if a coronavirus infection leads to another serious illness or condition—such as organ failure and the need for an organ transplant—the policy holder will typically be eligible for a critical illness benefit. Most critical illness insurance providers offer coverage for up to 26 diseases or health conditions, including heart attack, stroke, and cancer.
Can I start a critical illness insurance policy after I’ve had COVID-19?
Yes, it is possible to purchase critical illness insurance coverage after you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19. To date, life insurance providers that supply critical illness coverage have not changed the application process to account for the coronavirus. Where the diagnosis may have an impact, however, is the timing of when your critical illness insurance application is submitted and in determining the premium rates you may qualify for.
For example, if you’ve had the novel coronavirus, it will have to be disclosed—along with other health conditions and medical history—to the insurance provider. They will then assess your risk of being diagnosed with a critical illness in the future, which will influence your premiums. Additionally, if you’ve recently been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are applying for critical illness insurance, the approval process may be deferred until at least 14 days or in some cases at least a month after recovery or complete absence of symptoms.
How does COVID-19 affect my life insurance policy?
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. In fact, in 2020, over $154 million was paid out in covid-related death claims in Canada.
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 is complete. Most companies are currently proposing a deferral of at least 14 days to a month after the complete absence of COVID-symptoms.
To learn about how COVID-19 is impacting life insurance coverage and applications, head to our FAQ page about COVID insurance.
What other insurance policies will cover COVID-19?
The federal government as well as other regulatory bodies have put resources in place to protect your financial wellbeing during the pandemic. If these resources do not meet your needs, you may consider protecting yourself with insurance. 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.
Want to learn more?
Critical illness insurance is a great option for those who are concerned about future diagnoses and the costs associated. With critical illness insurance, some of that financial burden and worry can be alleviated.
The information provided herein is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal aid, financial advice, or diagnostic purposes.
- Critical illness insurance can help you cope with the financial and medical impact of life-threatening conditions
- Covid-19 itself is not covered under critical illness insurance, but other conditions related to its long-tail effects may be
- Other insurance products may be available to cover non-health-related effects of Covid-19 such as disability insurance