Life insurance for people with HIV

Most providers do not offer traditional life insurance for people with HIV, but you may qualify for guaranteed issue or group life insurance.

Amanda Shih author photo


Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is an insurance editor and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent at Policygenius in New York City. Her work has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Updated November 30, 2020|4 min read

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Getting life insurance as a person living with HIV isn’t impossible, but it’s not always easy.

The CDC estimates that there are 1.2 million people living with HIV in America. Though major advances in medicine mean that the life expectancy of a young person living with HIV has a similar life expectancy to someone who is HIV negative, the life insurance industry still treats an HIV diagnosis as a severe condition.

Most major life insurance companies don’t offer life insurance coverage to people with HIV, and the few that do have stopped offering policies until the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic passes. But, there are still a couple of options if you need life insurance right now, like getting a smaller policy through your employer or seeing if you qualify for final expense insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • Companies that offered term life insurance to applicants with HIV have paused approvals during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Most life insurance providers will decline your term life application if you are HIV-positive

  • Employer-sponsored life insurance or final expense insurance are the best options until the pandemic subsides

  • Both group life and final expense have some limitations and offer less coverage than a traditional policy

How HIV affects life insurance

When you apply for a life insurance policy, the insurer uses underwriting to evaluate how risky you are to insure (i.e., how likely you are to pass away while your policy is active). Though it’s possible to live a long life with an HIV diagnosis, life insurance companies are generally risk-averse, and providers remain cautious about the overall health of people with HIV over the long-term. Many insurance companies won’t offer a life insurance policy to people with HIV at all.

While a few life insurance companies normally offer policies to HIV-positive applicants, many of those companies are declining to offer coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even after the pandemic is controlled, you may be denied coverage by some companies if you have a recent HIV diagnosis. Some insurers won’t offer you a policy until at least one year after your initial HIV diagnosis and will want to see at least six months of stable health and treatment before offering you a policy. Stricter providers will deny coverage unless you can show five years of stable health history and meet additional health and viral load testing criteria.

Final expense insurance

Final expense insurance policies, also called burial insurance policies, are policies for people who, because of age or health conditions, don't qualify for term life insurance. Benefits are low — maxing out at $25,000 to $50,000 — and premiums can be high, but if you have an illness that disqualifies you from many life insurance policies, like HIV, it’s one way to ensure your loved ones receive some financial support when you pass away. There are two types of final expense policies, guaranteed issue and simplified issue.

Guaranteed issue life insurance

Guaranteed issue life insurance doesn’t require a medical exam, and you won’t be asked any questions about your health, but premiums are steep (ranging from $50-500 per month, depending on your age) and death benefit levels are low (they generally max out at $25,000). Coverage is also generally restricted to people 50 years or older. Still, acceptance is nearly guaranteed, so it may be your best option if you’re over 50 and can’t find a policy elsewhere.

Simplified issue life insurance

Simplified issue life insurance also allows you to skip a medical exam. But, unlike guaranteed issue, you’ll still need to answer some medical questions when you apply. Many simplified issue applications will ask about your HIV status, but approval or denial will vary by provider.

Like guaranteed issue, simplified issue is more expensive for less coverage than traditional life insurance, with death benefits topping out at $40,000. Most life insurers also limit simplified issue policies to those 45 years or older. If you need more coverage than guaranteed issue offers and think you could qualify, simplified issue could be the right final expense policy for you.

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Group life insurance

If you’re too young to qualify for a final expense policy and want to secure coverage now, check if your employer offers group life insurance. You are eligible for group life insurance coverage regardless of health status, and your employer may even subsidize some or all of your premiums.

Most group life insurance plans have a limit — usually around $50,000 or two times your salary — and you can’t take your plan with you if you lose or change your job. But, group life can offer affordable financial protection while you wait to qualify for a more robust policy or a final expense plan.

Shopping for life insurance with HIV is a bit more challenging, but there are options available to you, even if the most affordable term life insurance plans are off the table. While final expense and group life insurance may not offer as much life insurance as you need, having some coverage is better than none. As providers continue to adjust their underwriting guidelines, you may qualify for a traditional policy in time. Until then, an independent life insurance broker can find the best and most affordable life insurance option for your circumstances.

Life insurance and HIV FAQ:

Does COVID-19 affect the life insurance application process or eligibility?

Due to the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, some insurers are modifying processes and/or imposing coverage restrictions on certain health conditions or age groups. Speak to a Policygenius agent for free to find out how to get the most affordable policy.

Can you get life insurance if you have HIV?

Some providers offer life insurance for people with HIV, but you may not qualify for a traditional term or whole life policy.

Why do life insurance companies test for HIV?

Life insurance companies want a full picture of your health and test for many health conditions, including HIV. While life expectancy for people with HIV has increased, providers may be concerned about the potential for related health issues you may develop long-term.

How can you get life insurance with HIV?

If you don’t qualify for a traditional policy, a guaranteed issue or simplified issue life insurance policy will provide coverage without requiring a medical exam for people 45 years or older. If your employer offers group life insurance, you’ll be eligible no matter your health status.

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