Catching The H1N1 Swine Flu Could
Affect Your Life Insurance Plan and Eligibility
Millions could come down with the H1N1 flu this season. If you're
among them, and your brush with the deadly bug motivates you to
take out life insurance, get ready for a shock. Insurance companies
may treat you like you have the plague.
Lorne Marr, president of LSM Insurance in Markham, Ont., says
that insurance companies won't treat you differently if you have
the regular flu, unless you end up in hospital. But underwriters
are breaking down H1N1 applicants into three categories: those
who currently have the flu, those who had a mild case and recovered,
and those who were hospitalized. Those who have it now won't be
considered for coverage until they get better, he says, while
those who have recovered from a mild case have to wait two to
three months. Those unlucky enough to be hospitalized may not
qualify for life insurance for a full year.
Marr's assessment is based on feedback from insurance industry
underwriters although many insurance companies are denying it.
A Money sense reporter Rob Gerlsbeck decided to test the underwriters'
claims and called a company's 1-800 number to ask how to take
out life insurance. He pretended that he'd recently been released
from hospital with a bout with swine flu. After several back and
forths with an underwriter, the phone representative said the
company wouldn't consider him until two to three months after
a doctor said he was cured. "They want to see some stability
before they make a decision," he was told. "Who knows
if you're more prone to getting it again." The good news:
assuming he did qualify for insurance later, he wouldn't be penalized
for having had H1N1.
To avoid such delays, Marr suggests that if you've been thinking
about getting life insurance, you may want to do it now, while
you're still healthy. If it's too late, and you need to get life
insurance right after a bout of the swine flu, your only immediate
option is a policy that doesn't require disclosure of any medical
information. The premiums on such policies, however, can be awfully
steep usually three times as much as a normal policy.
November 6, 2009