Q

Does life insurance cover coronavirus?

A

Shopping for life insurance may be complicated by the coronavirus, but everyone still has options. If you’re already covered, the death benefit will be paid to your family if you pass away from a pandemic-related illness.

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By 

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Senior Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

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.

Updated March 29, 2022 | 8 min read

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Life insurance offers financial protection for your family if you die unexpectedly. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some life insurance companies have changed how they approach applications and might delay your application if you've recently had COVID-19. Others are evaluating applicants based on their pre-pandemic guidelines. 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 won’t change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • If you're applying for life insurance during a pandemic, be completely honest about any past or future travel plans, otherwise, your policy may be invalidated.

  • Your application will be postponed for at least 14 days if you have recently recovered from 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 can impact the application process if you don't have a policy yet.

Most people can still buy affordable coverage during 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. 

Applying for life insurance

No-medical-exam policies have become increasingly popular during the COVID-19 outbreak. They're completely contactless but are still affordable — and can sometimes be even cheaper than other policies. To make sure you're covered while you're applying, you can often get temporary coverage, which pays out if you die before your actual policy is active.

“Having life insurance is one way to build resiliency, this is how you empower yourself. This is what you do to be responsible and take control. While the pandemic has forced us to feel out of control in so many ways, this is one simple way to protect yourself,” says Dr. Lisa M. Koonin, Founder of Health Preparedness Partners and formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Barring any major changes, the coronavirus has a larger impact on people who are applying for a life insurance policy than those who already have a policy in place. Your life insurance application may also be affected by the following factors, but each company is different. An insurance agent will work with you to find the right policy for your profile.

Vaccines 

Most insurance companies offered through Policygenius do not ask about your vaccine status, for COVID-19 or any other vaccine, meaning whether or not you are vaccinated will not impact your eligibility or premiums.

Protective is the only insurer in the Policygenius marketplace that will offer coverage to people who may be otherwise ineligible for a policy if they are vaccinated against COVID-19. Eligibility based on your vaccination status depends on your age and medical history. 

Travel restrictions 

Due to the current spread of the coronavirus, your life insurance application may be affected if you’re traveling internationally.

“The most immediate implication the coronavirus has on life insurance is on applicants. If you’re applying for life insurance now and planning a trip abroad, you may need to wait until after you return to complete your application,” says Nicholas Mancuso, manager of the disability and advanced planning team at Policygenius. “But if you already have life insurance, and you die from the coronavirus, your beneficiary will still receive the death benefit.”

Some insurers will postpone application approval if you have returned from travel outside of the U.S. within the last 30 days or have plans to travel abroad. Additionally, they may postpone your application if a member of your household has recently returned from travel outside the U.S. Travel will generally be assessed on a case-by-case basis and if you have plans to travel abroad to a country with a CDC level 1 or 2 advisory [1] you may still be able to get coverage at a competitive price. 

Each insurer has its own specifications on how they underwrite CDC travel advisories and what countries are approved to get a new life insurance policy. 

Contracting the coronavirus 

If you contract the coronavirus, most of the top life insurance companies will postpone your application for 14 to 90 days post-recovery. Depending on how severe your coronavirus symptoms were, some insurers may postpone your application for up to six months. 

If you have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you may also be required to postpone your application or provide a statement of good health for a new or pending life insurance application.

Age and health restrictions

If you are older or have certain medical conditions that could make you more susceptible to the coronavirus, you run into some restrictions when applying for life insurance. 

A select few insurance companies have adjusted their maximum applicant age and insurable underlying health conditions, which could make you ineligible for life insurance. 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.

Life insurance premiums during a pandemic

Similar to any other medical diagnosis, the severity of an illness can impact your life insurance rates 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. And, as we mentioned, if your policy is already in place and you contract the coronavirus, there won't be any impact on your premiums.

How quarantine affects your application

If you are quarantining or temporarily living in a state that you don’t currently reside in, this could impact your life insurance application. Some life insurance companies are requiring that your paperwork match the state you are currently in, even if it is not the state you actually reside in. Others are still accepting paperwork for the state you permanently reside in.

Because this varies for each life insurance company and application, you'll want to discuss how to proceed with your application with your life insurance agent.

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Active life insurance policies

The pandemic has hurt many Americans financially [2] , making it more difficult to keep up with everyday bills and expenses. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities [3] , one in eight adults with children can't afford to buy "sufficient food" due to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. 

While insurers aren’t completely forgoing premium payments, some are allowing for some flexibility in payment schedules if the pandemic has negatively affected your financial health.

Newly imposed restrictions on applicants don’t apply to people who already have an active policy. For example, if you’re traveling to a highly compromised area, life insurance companies can’t change your health classification or the rates you pay.

Likewise, 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 — like if 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.

Late premium payments

Due to an increase in unemployment and other consequences of the coronavirus, some people, understandably, have not been able to budget for a life insurance policy at this time. 

Some states have implemented regulations to prohibit life insurance companies from charging late fees or reporting late payments to a credit reporting or debt collection agency. Check with your insurer to see how they are handling late payments and repayment plans.

Traveling abroad with an active policy

If you recently purchased a life insurance policy and did not disclose travel plans abroad on your application, or lied about contracting the illness, then there is cause for concern.

If your insurer finds out that you withheld information about your travel, contract the disease in question, and pass away from it, the life insurance company can refuse to pay out the death benefit to your beneficiaries. If you are applying for a life insurance policy and have travel plans or have gotten sick, it’s important to be honest about this — and everything else — during the underwriting process so that you don’t risk losing coverage.

However, if you were completely honest about any known travel plans, life insurance companies cannot deny your beneficiaries a payout.

While there are many unknowns regarding the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, getting a life insurance policy can provide the peace of mind that your family is financially protected in a worst-case scenario. “It’s about building resilience," says Dr. Koonin. "It means that from an individual perspective, you have as much capacity to weather the storm and bounce back from adversity as possible, to be okay when the world gives you the unexpected, as we’ve seen with COVID."

Preparing for the unthinkable is never an easy conversation, but it is a necessary one in our ever-changing world. "It has taught us that life can throw curveballs, and it’s important to be prepared,” says Dr. Koonin.

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 is 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.