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Life insurance for people with HIV

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People with HIV may qualify for guaranteed issue or group life insurance, but most providers don't offer traditional life insurance if you're HIV-positive.

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Amanda Shih

Amanda Shih

Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Amanda Shih is an editor and a licensed life, disability, and health insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about life insurance and disability insurance. Her expertise has appeared in Slate, Lifehacker, Little Spoon, and J.D. Power.

Updated  | 3 min read

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Getting life insurance as a person living with HIV isn’t impossible, but getting a traditional, private policy can be difficult.

Most major life insurance companies do not offer life insurance coverage to people with HIV. But, there are a couple of options if you need life insurance right now, like getting a smaller policy through your employer or applying for burial insurance that doesn't require a medical exam, like guaranteed issue life 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.

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

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How HIV affects life insurance eligibility

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 you can live a long life with an HIV diagnosis, insurance companies are generally cautious about the long-term health of people with HIV.

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.

In typical circumstances, some of those 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 testing criteria.

Burial insurance

Burial insurance policies, also called final expense policies, are best for people who don't qualify for term life insurance because of age or health conditions. 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 get some financial support for your family when you pass away. There are two types of burial insurance: simplified issue and guaranteed issue.

Simplified issue life insurance

Simplified issue life insurance allows you to skip a medical exam. But, you’ll still need to answer some medical questions when you apply. Many simplified issue applications will ask about your HIV status, but whether you're approved or denied depends on the insurer.

Simplified issue is more expensive for less coverage than traditional life insurance, with coverage topping out at $50,000. Most life insurance companies 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 a good fit.

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 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.

Group life insurance

If you’re too young to qualify for a final expense policy and need coverage now, check if your employer offers group life insurance. You can get group life insurance regardless of health status, and your employer may even cover 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 rarely take your plan with you if you lose or change your job. But, group life is an affordable option while you wait to qualify for a more robust policy or a final expense plan.

While burial 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. A Policygenius agent can help you find the best and most affordable life insurance option.

Frequently asked questions

Can you get life insurance if you're HIV positive?

Yes, you can get life insurance if you have HIV, but you may not qualify for a traditional term or whole life policy with every provider.

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. If your employer offers group life insurance, you’ll be eligible no matter your health status.

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.