COVID-19’s Impact on Life Insurance

Russell Cain Updated: 24 March 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. The life insurance industry is no different. The virus has forced insurers to adapt underwriting procedures to better manage the associated risks. One of the most significant changes that insurers have made is to their underwriting process.

Due to the increased risk that applicants pose to the insurer, and the fact that long covid symptoms could impact your life for years to come, many insurers have had to change their application and underwriting processes. Typically, if you’ve had COVID and would like to apply for a life insurance policy, you’ll need to be able to prove that you are fully recovered before you may be eligible for cover.

Applying for life insurance when you have COVID-19

If you have COVID-19 and want to apply for life insurance, there are a few things you need to know. First, most insurers will not issue a policy if you currently have the virus. Additionally, suppose you suffer from long term symptoms of COVID. In that case, the underwriting process may look slightly different for you than it would for someone who has made a full recovery from the coronavirus.

How the type of COVID you have impacts your cover

Mild COVID

Typically, most insurers will only be able to offer you cover once you have fully recovered, are in good health and have been symptom free for more than one month. Once you’ve made a full recovery from COVID it should no longer impact your ability to apply for life cover and you may be able to typically apply for life cover, income protection, TPD insurance or trauma cover.

Generally, you won’t be able to apply for life insurance policies if one of the following applies:

Insurers will usually require you to provide proof that you have been fully recovered and symptom-free for a month after your isolation period ends following an acute COVID infection. It’s important to know that you can still apply for life cover if you’ve recently recovered from covid-19. When applying, be sure to disclose your recent health history so that the provider can accurately assess your case.

The impact of hospitalization for COVID on Life Insurance

If you contracted the coronavirus and experienced symptoms which led to you being hospitalized, your ability to apply for specific types of life cover could be affected. Insurers will generally assess the severity of your symptoms and the treatments you received before making a decision. 

Typically, insurers will examine applications for individuals who have been hospitalised due to coronavirus on a case by case basis. For instance, if you had a mild case, don’t have any contributing health conditions and were hospitalised to receive fluids, your case would be assessed differently than someone who was in ICU and required ventilation. 

The recovery period also differs depending on the severity of your case. This is the period of time in which you have been fully recovered and symptom-free
. Typically, you’ll need to have fully recovered from between 3 to 12 months or longer depending on the severity of your case before you’ll be able to apply for cover after a COVID infection.

Long covid and life cover

If your COVID 19 symptoms persist after the initial onset of your infection, your life insurer will examine your symptoms to decide on the cover you’re eligible for. If you have a long COVID diagnosis with mild ongoing symptoms, you may be eligible for life or trauma cover. However, income protection insurance or TPD cover is generally declined if you have long COVID if you are symptomatic (however best to complete a pre-assessment, to see if cover may be available as each insurer has different underwriting (assessment) guidelines.

Common symptoms of long COVID

When applying for life cover with a COVID diagnosis which includes ongoing symptoms, insurers will need to assess the illness’s impact on your life and what your symptoms are. In most cases, applicants will need to be symptom free for 1 month  to be approved for coverage.

Common symptoms of long covid include:

Does income protection cover COVID?

If you’d like to apply for an income protection insurance policy following a covid 19 infection, your insurer will generally determine your eligibility according to the length and severity of your illness. For instance, if you had a mild case and made a full recovery after your isolation period ends, you would typically be able to apply for cover. However, if you were hospitalised and continue to suffer from ongoing symptoms such as fatigue, then you generally won’t be able to qualify for income protection.

Underwriting after having COVID

If you apply for a life insurance policy after having COVID, the underwriting process may look slightly different. The life insurer will ask several questions to determine your health status after being ill.

Some of the questions you may be asked include

  1. Have you been fully recovered from COVID for over 1 month?
  2. Have you ever been hospitalised due to coronavirus?
  3. What symptoms did you have, and how long did they last?
  4. Do you have any ongoing complications, and what are they?

If you have been hospitalised or experienced persistent symptoms, your application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The insurer will then determine whether you’re eligible for cover depending on your circumstances.

Underwriting for long COVID

You will generally be assessed differently when applying for insurance if your covid symptoms are ongoing. Life insurers are now doing more comprehensive assessments, clarifying the diagnosis and ensuring that long COVID isn’t confused with other co-morbidities. Typically, long covid applications are assessed on a case by case basis.

Underwriting after a COVID hospitalisation

You may also have a longer wait to prove that you are fully recovered from the virus if you were hospitalised because of covid. In these cases, the insurer will examine your symptoms and the treatments you received in hospital to determine when you’ll be eligible for cover. Depending on the severity of your case, you may need to wait for 3 to 12 months or longer for your application to be approved.

For example, if you were hospitalised during a covid 19 infection and the only treatment you received was a fluid infusion, you would be eligible for cover sooner than if you were admitted to the ICU and placed on a ventilator.

Exclusions

Generally, exclusions in life insurance are circumstances that your policy does not cover, most often implying that you will not be able to claim them. Currently, most life insurers do not have any specific exclusions for COVID 19 However always check with your insurer and relevant product disclosure statement.

Does having the covid vaccine void life insurance?

Receiving a vaccination against COVID-19 generally won’t affect your ability to apply for life cover or any claim you make on an existing life insurance policy now or in the future. Life insurance products are generally designed to provide cover and support to Australians during their most difficult times, including when they are impacted by illness or injury. Receiving aTGA approved COVID-19 vaccination typically won’t affect your ability to claim on an existing policy.

Tips for applying for life insurance during a pandemic

Although applying for life insurance after having COVID is slightly different than the normal application process. There are generally a few things you can do to make it easier to apply for life insurance cover. This includes:

Frequently asked questions and answers

  • Which insurance company covers covid 19?

    Generally, most life insurers will still be able to provide you with a life or critical illness policy after you’ve had covid 19. If you were seriously ill with the virus, life insurers will need a longer period of recovery to provide you with an individual disability income insurance policy. It’s best to check your eligibility with your insurer directly.
  • Does life insurance cover covid death?

    Yes, most life insurers will pay out death claims in cases linked to coronavirus. If you die due to coronavirus-related disease, your beneficiary or beneficiaries will receive a death benefit under your existing life insurance policy. However, you will need to ensure that you are up to date with your life insurance premiums and that your policy is still active.
  • Can I get life insurance during covid?

    No, if you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID 19, then you typically won’t be able to apply for life cover. Although you’ll be able to apply if you have recently been diagnosed with coronavirus, most companies in the life insurance industry will only approve your application if you can prove that you have been symptom-free for more than a month.
  • Does life insurance cover pandemics?

    Yes, most life insurers do not have specific exclusions related to pandemics. However, if you currently have covid or have been diagnosed with long covid, your life insurer may assess your case differently in the life insurance industry. It’s generally good to refer to your life insurers’ policy documents to learn more about their specific terms and exclusions.
  • What happens to my insurance if I can’t pay my premiums due to financial hardship?

    Suppose you cannot pay your life insurance premiums due to financial hardship caused by the pandemic. In that case, you may be able to negotiate an insurance premium freeze on your life insurance policies. The level of cover will decrease each year to compensate for the rise in risk you pose as you age, typically keeping your premiums fixed at the same rate year after year, alternatively see if they have any other financial hardship offers
  • Can you get life insurance after the covid vaccine

    Generally, receiving a Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) approved vaccine will not prevent you from qualifying for life insurance. The majority of life insurance policies do not contain any vaccine exclusions. If you want additional information about the exclusions on your policy, check your PDS or call your insurer.

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