Are you young, HIV positive, and receiving antiretroviral therapy? Your life expectancy is nearly the same as someone who is HIV negative. This is a huge change from just sixteen years ago, when young, HIV positive men and women could expect to live less than half as long as the general population.
Unfortunately, the insurance industry has been slow to accept the fact that HIV has become a manageable disease. For years, it was impossible for someone diagnosed with HIV to get term life insurance. But now, thanks to a financial services startup and one of the largest insurance companies in the country, there is a term life insurance product for people living with HIV.
Best case scenario: term life insurance with ÆQUALIS and Prudential
As of right now, there is only one term life insurance option for HIV positive shoppers, and it actually just popped up at the end of 2015. Prudential Financial, one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S., has teamed up with ÆQUALIS, a financial startup dedicated to bringing life insurance to the underserved HIV community.
Their life insurance offering comes in two flavors, Term Essential and Term Elite, depending on your overall health. You can only get term lengths of 10 or 15 years, which may be disappointing to those looking for 20 or 30 year policies. Both of these policies also come with a conversion rider, which allows you to convert your term policy into a permanent policy at the end of your term. They also come with an accelerated death benefit rider that will pay out your benefit earlier if you become terminally ill. You can read more details about the policies here.
As we mentioned before, this is currently the only term life insurance option on the market for people living with HIV. ÆQUALIS had to prove to Prudential, using data from other types of life insurance like guaranteed issue, that people living with HIV lived as long as people living without HIV. This is a byproduct of the way insurance companies have to make decisions – underwriters, the people who calculate just how risky you are for the life insurance company to take on as a customer, have to use established data from years of research in order to change policies. (You can read more about this process here.)
Want to apply for life insurance from Prudential/ÆQUALIS? Head over to their site and reach out to one of their representatives or an approved financial professional.
While you can qualify for life insurance through Prudential and ÆQUALIS if you’re HIV positive, it’s not a guarantee – you still need to go through medical underwriting, and if you’re dealing with complications from HIV or have other medical issues, you may not get approved.
There are other life insurance options, however. Some life insurance companies offer products called "simplified issue life insurance" and "guaranteed life insurance." (One caveat: while some insurance companies will accept applications for these products from HIV positive shoppers, not all do. Prepare for a potentially arduous application process.)
Simplified issue life insurance is the better option of the two. Simplified issue life insurance is a type of "no exam policy," which means you don’t have to get a medical exam during the application process. This doesn’t mean that medical issues don’t affect your application – you just have to fill out a written form instead of getting a doctor to look at your insides. What’s the catch? Simplified issue life insurance is more expensive than traditional term life insurance products, and the death benefits are usually much lower.
Your other option is guaranteed life insurance. It’s bit of a misnomer – you can still be denied a guaranteed life insurance policy for being HIV positive, for example – but typically, as long as you can afford it, you can get a guaranteed life insurance policy. Like simplified issue life insurance, it’s more expensive and has lower death benefits than term life insurance. However, it’s even MORE more expensive has even LOWER lower death benefits than even simplified issue life insurance. Unfortunately, for some in the HIV community, it may be the only option.
Keep an eye out for progress
While there’s only one term life insurance option for HIV positive shoppers, we expect other life insurance companies to expand their underwriting to cover people living with HIV in 2016 and beyond. Progress may be slow, but now that one insurance company has offered a product, other insurance companies will have to follow suit in order to stay competitive. Keep an eye on news sources in the HIV community and here at PolicyGenius in order to stay up to date on life insurance options for people living with HIV.
Image: Caitlin Childs