Does My Life Insurance Cover Coronavirus?
Coronavirus has killed more than 7,300 people worldwide. In the United States, more than 100 people have died. President Trump has declared a national emergency to fight the pandemic. Across the country, schools, workplaces and restaurants have been closed until further notice.
More than half of Americans are at risk of being unemployed or underemployed because of coronavirus. As many as 10 million Americans are estimated to see some impact to their paycheck through layoffs, fewer hours, wage cuts or furloughs. Many businesses have asked their workers to stop coming into the office and work remotely.
Americans are being encouraged to practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus by staying home when possible and avoiding gathering in groups of more than 10 people. In Northern California more than 6.7 million residents were ordered to shelter in place until at least April 7th.
People are waiting in long lines to access basic supplies at grocery stores, struggling to locate necessities like toilet paper and water. Investments and retirement funds have been a source of stress for many people, as the Dow Jones experienced its worst point drop in history. Understandably, people are incredibly alarmed by the pandemic and as a result are reevaluating their insurance policies.
Some life insurance companies have reported a 50% increase in life insurance applications since mid-February. If you are one of the many Americans considering purchasing a life insurance policy, make sure you understand how you are covered for coronavirus.
What Do Traditional Life Insurance Policies Cover?
Standard life insurance policies cover death by any cause, at any time and in any place. The only exception is death by suicide. If you die within the first two years of purchasing your life insurance policy, you will be paid on a “graded death benefit” amount, not the full amount you are insured for.
Traditional life insurance policies are not instant and require careful planning. There are several steps required for getting a traditional life insurance policy, including:
- Completing the application
- Getting a life insurance medical exam
- Sending in medical records
- Information verification and review by your life insurance company
Will My Life Insurance Cover Coronavirus?
If you already have life insurance, your coverage includes death by coronavirus both while on U.S. soil and abroad. Even if you travel to an area with an outbreak, an active life insurance policy covers death by pandemic viruses. There is no pandemic exclusion for life insurance policies.
If you are currently applying for a life insurance policy, you may not be covered for coronavirus. You may experience a delayed application process or higher premiums while applying for life insurance during a pandemic. It is important to remember that life insurance policies are not active until you have officially signed the proper documentation supplied by the life insurance company and paid your first premium in full.
Can I Get Life Insurance Coverage if I Have Coronavirus?
If you have coronavirus during your application process, you may not be able to obtain life insurance coverage. Some life insurance companies will consider approving your policy on a case-by-case basis. Other insurers will reject your application completely or postpone your offer pending your full recovery. If you recover but have long-term health consequences as a result of the virus, you could have higher premiums. If you make a full recovery with no long-term health consequences anticipated, your insurance premium should not be much higher than if you never contracted the virus.
It is essential you are honest in your life insurance application process. If you already have active coverage, you must also have been honest during that application process. There is a contestability period, usually in the first two years of your policy, where life insurance companies can investigate misrepresented application materials. If the life insurance company discovers that you were not honest in the application process they can refuse to pay out your death benefits.
The contestability period is the most common time period for your life insurance company to investigate fraudulent information. However, if your life insurance company discovers you lied in your application they can still refuse to pay your death benefits at any time during your policy.
What If I Travelled to a High Risk Area Before Applying?
You should be honest in your application process about your recent travels. If you have been exposed to, or have contracted coronavirus, you must disclose this information to your life insurance company. Not being honest to your life insurance company may result in invalidation of your policy, or refusal to pay out benefits to your beneficiaries in the event of your death.
Some life insurance companies may not insure you if you have:
- Travelled to China within the last 30 days
- You plan to travel to China
- You have recently traveled to/are planning to travel to high risk areas, including but not limited to: Italy, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam
Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, you need to verify with each life insurance company that you are applying to that you are covered for both past and future travelling.
How Can I Get Life Insurance Fast or Temporarily?
There are options available for a speedier life insurance policy application. There are life insurance policies available that do not require a medical exam with a decreased underwriting period. There are also limited temporary life insurance policies available for purchase while you are waiting for a traditional life insurance policy to go into effect.
You can get a temporary life insurance policy while waiting to take your medical exam or during the insurance underwriting period. Temporary life insurance policies can act as a bridge between noncoverage and traditional life insurance coverage. You may purchase temporary life insurance to ensure some death benefit is paid out to your beneficiaries if you were to die before your traditional life insurance policy went into effect.
There are also instant life insurance policies that use an algorithm to calculate your policy rate. Instant life insurance policies take about ten minutes from starting the application to receiving a policy offer. You are much more likely to be approved for an instant life insurance policy if you are young and healthy. If you are not approved for the instant policy, you may have to go through the more traditional life insurance process that includes a medical examination.
What Are Symptoms of Coronavirus and Who Is Affected?
Symptoms of coronavirus may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include:
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing difficulties
More severe symptoms may include:
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome
- Lower Respiratory tract illness
- Kidney failure
Everyone has the potential of contracting coronavirus. However, older people, people with weakened immune systems, and people with heart and lung disease are the most at risk of more severe symptoms or even death.
How Can I Protect Myself From Coronavirus?
As with any virus, you can take preventative measures to avoid contracting coronavirus, these include:
- Regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to clean hands if soap and water are not available
- Avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unclean hands
- Avoiding close contact with infected persons
- Wiping down commonly shared areas such as bathrooms or break rooms
You may be exposed to the virus if you are within six feet of an infected person, or through inhaling the respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is possible you can get sick from someone not showing symptoms, but primarily the virus is spread by people displaying symptoms. You may contract the illness through shared surfaces if you touch an orifice of your body such as your eye, nose, or mouth after touching an infected surface.
The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear face masks. Face masks are recommended for people who show symptoms, healthcare workers and caretakers to help prevent the spread to others.
It is wise to cancel all unnecessary travel plans. You should practice social distancing and avoid gathering in groups of larger than 10 people. Staying at home as much as possible, even if you are young and healthy, will decrease the likelihood of you spreading the illness to others who may not survive it. If you are ordered to shelter in place, comply with these orders. Keep informed about the pandemic and comply with various federal and state advisories as they are declared.
What Should I Do If I Contract Coronavirus?
If you suspect you have contracted coronavirus, you should seek immediate medical help. Call your healthcare professional if you develop a fever or cough or have difficulty breathing. You should also contact your healthcare provider if you may have been exposed to a person with coronavirus or you live in/have travelled to an area with a high concentration of infected people.
There are tests that will help your medical practitioner identify if your symptoms are in fact coronavirus. Once you have been diagnosed, your doctor may suggest:
- Taking pain and fever medications
- Drinking plenty of liquids
- Staying home to rest
- Taking a hot shower to ease sore throat and cough
- Using a room humidifier to help with respiratory symptoms
- Support for vital organ function in severe cases
The best time to begin the life insurance policy application process is now. Here are 25 questions you should ask a life insurance company when purchasing a life insurance policy. Enter your zip code below to begin shopping for a life insurance policy that will provide both you and your family peace of mind both during and after this pandemic.
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