How to Get Life Insurance If You're HIV-positive

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

Logan Sachon

Logan Sachon

Published March 27, 2020

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

The CDC estimates that there are 1.1 million people living with HIV in America.1 But thanks to advances in antiretroviral therapy, the life expectancy of young people living with HIV and taking antiretroviral therapy is nearly the same as someone who is HIV negative.2

Even though most of the major life insurance companies don’t offer life insurance coverage to people who are HIV-positive, there are a few life insurance products that are available to people living with HIV. Some of these products don’t require medical exams, and some require applicants to meet strict treatment and health criteria.

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HIV-positive life insurance

Unfortunately, the insurance industry, and especially life insurance companies, has been slow to respond to the fact that HIV has become a manageable disease and that people with HIV have a long life expectancy.

Instead, HIV is viewed as more than just a pre-existing condition — it’s a pre-existing condition that makes you uninsurable. Many insurance companies won’t offer a life insurance policy to people with HIV at all. Exhibit A: HIV testing is a part of the life insurance medical exam, and testing positive typically means an automatic decline of your application.

Though many insurers won’t offer coverage to people who are HIV-positive, there are a few insurers who have guidelines in place to offer policies to some applicants with HIV.

Anecdotally, these policies are hard to come by, even for applicants that meet the stringent criteria. Making the process even harder, you can’t go through the regular channels yet — for example, Policygenius, while a licensed insurance broker, can’t offer these policies. Applicants either need to apply through the company directly or go through an insurance broker who specializes in high-risk life insurance.

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John Hancock

John Hancock offers term and permanent life insurance policies to applicants living with HIV, with some caveats. Applicants must be age 30 to 65, monitored by a qualified physician, have a minimum of five years of compliance with antiretroviral therapy (ART), have two years of undetectable viral loads, and have CD4 counts at 350 cells/mm or higher for two years.

Applicants also must be negative for hepatitis B and hepatitis C, cannot have any AIDS-defining illness, and must meet other health criteria. Face amounts are available between $250,000 and $2 million.

Applicants need to submit an “informal inquiry submission” via their insurance broker. (See John Hancock’s criteria here.)

Final expense insurance

Final expense insurance policies, also called burial insurance policies, are policies for people who because or 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 for people who otherwise can't qualifty for life insurance, like people living with HIV, these policies can be important. There are two types:

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 and benefit levels are low (they generally max out at $25,000). Still, if you don’t have coverage through work and can’t get a personal policy, this might be better than nothing.

Read more about guaranteed-issue life insurance.

Simplified-issue life insurance

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.

But unlike guaranteed issue, you still have to fill out a written application that includes medical questions. Many simplified life insurers will ask about your HIV status; some will deny HIV-positive people, and some won’t.

What’s the catch? Simplified-issue life insurance is more expensive than traditional life insurance products, and the death benefits are usually much lower. But if you qualify, there are both simplified term and simplified whole life insurance policies available.

Read more about simplified-issue life insurance.

Group life insurance

If your employer offers group life insurance, you are eligible regardless of health status. While most group health plans offer less coverage than you may need, you’ll still be able to get some coverage.

1. CDC
2. BBC