How does COVID-19 affect life insurance?

You still have life insurance options if you’ve had COVID-19. Your application might be affected if you’ve had severe COVID-19, or are experiencing long COVID symptoms.

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By

Katherine MurbachEditor & Licensed Life Insurance AgentKatherine Murbach is an editor and a former licensed life insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.&Nupur GambhirSenior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance ExpertNupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

Edited by

Antonio Ruiz-CamachoAntonio Ruiz-CamachoAssociate Content DirectorAntonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

Updated|7 min read

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Editor’s note: On May 11, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration. Following the announcement, this page will be updated less frequently.

Life insurance offers financial protection for your family if you die unexpectedly. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, some life insurance companies had changed how they approached applications from people who had COVID-19. 

As of May 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration. As a result, many life insurance companies have relaxed their guidelines in regard to the coronavirus. Policygenius’ agents will work with you for free to compare companies and find the company that’s best for your individual circumstances. 

If you already have an active policy and die of a pandemic-related illness, your family would still get the death benefit, even if you had traveled abroad. Life insurance covers pandemics — assuming you were truthful about your travel plans during the application process.

Key takeaways

  • Active life insurance policies haven’t changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • If you’re over the age of 75 or 80 and have compounding health conditions in addition to COVID-19, you may have to shop around for policy options.

  • Your application might be postponed for at least 14 days if you have recently recovered from COVID-19, and it may be postponed longer if you were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Does life insurance cover pandemics?

If you already have life insurance in place, you’re covered. In the rare event you were to die from a pandemic-related illness, your policy would pay out.

However, because your health and medical history determine your life insurance premiums, a global health crisis like the coronavirus could impact the application process if you don’t have a policy yet.

Most people can still buy affordable coverage after the pandemic. But people who have recently recovered, have lingering long-haul COVID-19 side effects, or have certain pre-existing conditions may run into some application delays or restrictions.

How does COVID-19 affect applying for life insurance in 2024 and beyond?

Applying for life insurance after the end of the public health emergency as declared by the CDC looks much like applying for life insurance prior to the pandemic.

Contracting the coronavirus 

During the active pandemic, most insurance companies would postpone your application if you were diagnosed with COVID-19 within 30 days of applying. Some companies would postpone for longer depending on your symptoms.

Now, official guidelines generally aren’t as rigid.

If you contract the coronavirus and are experiencing severe symptoms, some companies might still postpone your application for 14 to 30 days post-recovery. 

The main indicators of risk are hospitalization or impairment in completing activities of daily living — much like indicators of risk for any other health concern.

This means that if you were diagnosed with the coronavirus and had to be admitted to a hospital or other facility for an extended period of time, the insurer may delay your application 90 days or more, or charge you more in premiums.

If, on the other hand, you recovered from COVID and have no ongoing symptoms, it’s unlikely to affect the rest of your application.

Age and health restrictions

Some of the main factors that will influence your application are your age and health — this goes for everyone, not just people who might have had COVID-19. A select few insurance companies have adjusted their maximum applicant age, which could make you ineligible for life insurance.

If you’re over the age of 75 or 80 and you have multiple health conditions — like diabetes or heart disease — you’ll likely have trouble qualifying for traditional life insurance whether or not you have COVID-19. 

If you have COVID-19 in addition to other chronic health conditions, and you’re assigned a table rated health classification six through eight — which are usually assigned to people with multiple high-risk health conditions — the insurer is going to be more likely to decline your application.

If, on the other hand, you’re above age 75, have had COVID-19 in the past but no longer have symptoms or complications, and have few health conditions, you’ll likely still have policy options.

You can make sure you get coverage by shopping around — working with an independent broker like Policygenius can help you find an insurer that will work with your specific background.

At Policygenius, our experts are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice.

Severe COVID-19 or hospitalization

If you were diagnosed with COVID-19 within the last three to six months and you required emergency hospitalization or intervention, your application and your premiums might be affected.

When you have a recent hospitalization on record — whether that’s from COVID-19, depression, asthma, heart disease, or other conditions — it presents more risk to the insurance company, so they’ll likely raise your premiums. 

If you’re not sure if your COVID-19 was diagnosed as severe or if your hospital visit will impact your rates, a Policygenius expert can help you shop around based on your personalized health details.

Long COVID

Long COVID can refer to a variety of chronic health problems associated with COVID-19. It can include a wide range of symptoms, including a prolonged cough, difficulty breathing, problems focusing, depression, and general fatigue, among others. [1]

Since there’s such a range of experiences when it comes to long COVID, and there isn’t much long-term reliable data on its effects currently available, insurance companies typically review applications from people with long COVID on a case-by-case basis.

Ultimately, your rates and your policy options will depend on your symptoms and overall health profile.

If you have trouble breathing without assistance or completing activities of daily living — such as walking, eating, or bathing — as a result of long COVID, your options may be limited to types of simplified issue or final expense life insurance.

These types of policies typically have lower coverage amounts and fewer medical qualifications for approval. Final expense life insurance policies provide a small amount of permanent coverage that’s typically used for end-of-life expenses, like a funeral or outstanding medical bills.

Much like how insurers view other health conditions, if you’re recovering from long COVID and have diagnostic test results in your medical records that indicate improvement, the insurance company may be more flexible with your rates. 

For example, “‘Brain fog’ or severe fatigue could result in a decline, but an MRI or similar test with normal results could help you in the underwriting process,” says Nick Kafaf, licensed life insurance agent and senior sales associate at Policygenius. “[Your rates] are going to depend on symptoms and medications prescribed, along with any test results.”

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Active life insurance policies

Any lingering COVID-19 restrictions on applicants don’t apply to people who already have an active policy. 

For example, if you die from a pandemic-related disease or travel abroad, life insurance companies can’t deny your family the death benefit. 

While some life insurance policies have exclusions for specific causes of death — if, for example, you were to die while doing a high-risk activity or due to an act of war — there is no pandemic exclusion for life insurance.

COVID-19 and life insurance premiums

If your policy is already in place and you contract the coronavirus, there won't be any impact on your premiums.

Similar to any other medical diagnosis, the severity of an illness can impact your life insurance costs when you’re applying for a policy. While simply getting a virus, such as the seasonal flu, won’t cause a price hike in your life insurance premiums, some of the long-term side effects of getting ill can.

If you were to contract the coronavirus and it caused long-term health problems before you applied for life insurance, you might end up receiving a lower health classification and a costlier life insurance policy.

For the most part, however, if you get ill, make a full recovery, and later apply for life insurance, you can expect that the price difference in life insurance premiums will be minimal.

Can you get life insurance if you don’t have the COVID-19 vaccine?

Most life insurance coverage only becomes active after a thorough evaluation of your medical history — this includes a record of any pre-existing conditions, surgeries you’ve had, and even any prescriptions you take. But one factor that insurers won’t consider is whether or not you are vaccinated against any illness. Whether that be for measles, hepatitis, or the flu, your vaccination status has no impact on your life insurance application or your active policy. 

While insurers will want an in-depth understanding of your health, they’ll never ask about your vaccination status during the life insurance application process — outside of questions related to the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Whether or not you have your basic vaccines won’t impact your eligibility for coverage or how much you pay for your policy. However, a few companies may ask about your vaccination status if you’ve recently had COVID-19 and are considered a risky candidate.

Other health concerns that can affect your life insurance

Certain pre-existing conditions and other health-related concerns can affect your life insurance options or costs. A Policygenius expert can help you find the right policy for your needs.

Frequently asked questions

Does life insurance cover pandemics?

If you die due to the coronavirus, the life insurance company will still pay out the death benefit to your beneficiaries.

What happens if I contract the coronavirus during the application process?

If you contract the coronavirus during the application process, be honest about it with the underwriter. The life insurance company may postpone your application until after your recovery, but you can still qualify later.

Would the death benefit be paid out if I have an active life insurance policy and pass away from the coronavirus?

There’s no life insurance exclusion for the coronavirus and as long as you were honest during the application process, a life insurance company will not deny the death benefit to your beneficiaries if you die from the coronavirus.

What happens if I die from the coronavirus during the application process?

If you pass away from the coronavirus during the life insurance application process, you do not have life insurance coverage and a death benefit will not be paid out to your beneficiaries, unless you have temporary coverage in place.

You can purchase temporary coverage during the life insurance application process so that your beneficiaries receive some life insurance money if you die unexpectedly.

How does travel affect my current life insurance policy?

Any travel plans that were not misrepresented during your life insurance application process will not affect your active policy.

Should I buy life insurance that doesn’t require a medical exam?

If you're unable to take the medical exam, a no-medical-exam life insurance policy can ensure that your loved ones are financially protected if you die unexpectedly.

Will life insurance cover the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. If you get the COVID-19 vaccine, there is absolutely no impact on your active life insurance policy. Insurers cannot cancel your coverage unless you intentionally lied on your application or stop paying your premiums.

Does getting the COVID-19 vaccine disqualify you from getting life insurance?

No. Your vaccination status will never disqualify you from getting coverage.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of oureditorial standards.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    . "

    Long COVID or Post-COVID Conditions

    ." Accessed July 13, 2023.

Authors

Katherine Murbach is an editor and a former licensed life insurance agent at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Nupur Gambhir is a licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert and a former senior editor at Policygenius. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service Cake.

Editor

Antonio helps lead our life insurance and disability insurance editorial team at Policygenius. Previously, he was a senior director of content at Bankrate and CreditCards.com, as well as a principal writer covering personal finance at CNET.

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