Buying life insurance when you have a chronic, preexisting health condition can be difficult. Life insurance companies will often charge higher premiums for policyholders who have health issues. In some cases, they may completely deny you coverage outright.
If you’re living with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), you may think that life insurance is out of reach. This is far from true! While it may be difficult to attain coverage, you still have options. Let’s walk through some of the common obstacles to obtaining life insurance for people with HIV and how to shop for coverage to meet your needs.
Can you get life insurance while living with HIV?
After its initial discovery, HIV and AIDS (advanced immunodeficiency syndrome) patients could typically expect an average life expectancy of a year or less. Life insurance companies would deem these individuals too risky to insure and would deny coverage. Most life insurance applications still ask their applicants to reveal their HIV-positive status. In these cases, carriers will often deny coverage.
Due to advances in medicine, treatment for HIV has dramatically improved. These improved treatments prevent most HIV cases from progressing to AIDS. They also allow most of the 1.2 million people living with HIV to lead relatively healthy, average lives—almost as long as those without the virus.
While people living with HIV may not have full access to traditional life insurance policies yet, there are insurance companies out there who have taken notice of these statistics and loosened their restrictions somewhat. You can find life insurance companies that cover HIV-positive individuals by doing research (or letting someone shop for you). States like California, meanwhile, are introducing legislation to ban life insurance companies from denying coverage based on HIV-positive test results.
Life Insurance Underwriting for Those with HIV
Life insurance underwriting takes several factors into consideration, including your age, family history, income, job risk level and—of course—your medical history. This includes whether or not you’re living with HIV.
Many life insurance applications ask about a prospective policyholder’s HIV status. Even for term life insurance—a generally more affordable option—applicants with HIV can expect to pay an exponentially higher rate than someone with excellent health history. In addition, there are other requirements.
Insurers require HIV-positive applicants to be of a certain age and have undergone a specific period of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Other questions you will likely be asked include:
- Date of HIV diagnosis
- Viral load and CD4 count
- Current medications and dosage
- Other health conditions
- Symptoms, both past and present
- Current stage of HIV infection
Insurers may not ask about how you contracted HIV or your sexuality, but they can ask about drug usage. They’ll also seek written statements from your doctor. Because information from healthcare providers can affect your premiums—not to mention your acceptance—it’s best to review it for accuracy if possible.
Even if you are generally healthy, a life insurer may still decline coverage as part of the underwriting process. If this is the case, ask for a clear reason for the insurance company’s decision. Many life insurers are pressing pause on their approval for HIV-positive patients during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic if they do offer policies for people living with HIV.
Life Insurance Options if You Have HIV
Even if you can’t be approved for a regular life insurance policy because of your HIV status, there are options out there. And while these options come with some limitations or less coverage than traditional policies, they can still help provide for your final expenses.
Group Life Insurance
Group life insurance offered by employers is an affordable option to help provide for your loved ones. This insurance coverage does not usually require a medical exam. In addition, employers often subsidize some or all of the premiums.
This coverage could be a good option for you while you wait to qualify for other options (such as more robust coverage or a final expenses plan). Note that you cannot take your group life coverage with you if you leave a job.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance
Guaranteed issue life insurance policies do not require medical exams. Their underwriting process also doesn’t involve health questions. The trade-off, however, is steep premiums (up to $500 a month) and low death benefit levels ($25,000). They’re also restricted to people between the ages of 45 and 85.
Simplified Issue Life Insurance
Simplified issue life insurance, like guaranteed issue coverage, removes the requirement for a medical exam. It does require you to answer some medical questions, including HIV status. Approval or denial varies by provider, however.
Simplified issue coverage shares one of the drawbacks of guaranteed coverage, which is that it typically offers less coverage for more money. Benefits often cap at $40,000, and policies are usually only available for people 45 years or older. But if your coverage needs include more than what guaranteed issue provides, simplified issue coverage might work.
SelectQuote Can Help Those with HIV Get Life Insurance
An HIV diagnosis is no longer the fast-progressing terminal illness that it once was, but it still makes buying life insurance difficult. SelectQuote helps people living with HIV shop for life insurance by shopping quotes from several trusted life insurance carriers, many of whom insure people living with HIV. If you need help finding life insurance coverage, SelectQuote can help save you time and money. Get started on your free life insurance quote today.