Why COVID long haulers might pay more for life insurance

A long-haul COVID diagnosis isn’t enough to warrant higher rates, but the symptoms you experience can impact what you’ll pay.

Nupur Gambhir

By

Nupur Gambhir

Nupur Gambhir

Life Insurance Expert

Nupur Gambhir is an insurance editor at Policygenius and licensed Life, Health, and Disability agent in New York.

Published September 27, 2021|4 min read

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More than 41 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19. [1] As the virus continues to spread, so do its long-term effects —  a severe bout can come with a number of financial setbacks. While an actual COVID diagnosis isn’t going to impact how much life insurance buyers pay for coverage — most insurers will just postpone your application for 30 to 60 days — lingering health problems can increase your rates. 

It’s estimated that 10% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 experience long-haul symptoms. [2] And much like COVID-19, symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people experience brain fog, while others experience more extreme outcomes, like a serious heart condition. [3] The more severe your symptoms, the higher your life insurance rates will be when buying coverage. If your symptoms are mild, you can pay affordable premiums but you’ll need to shop around to find the right insurer. 

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How long haul COVID impacts life insurance rates

Your insurer cannot raise your rates if you already have a life insurance policy and develop long-term COVID symptoms. But if you are buying life insurance, your medical history is just one of the many factors that can increase how much you pay. 

If you receive higher rates because of your long-haul COVID symptoms, you would have also paid more for these same symptoms before the coronavirus outbreak. Someone with heart disease would pay a lot more for coverage, whether or not it was caused by COVID. A serious medical condition always raises the cost of life insurance. 

Alongside severity, if you’re taking any medications or seeing a specialist, that could also increase your rates. For example, if you are prescribed an inhaler because you’re experiencing shortness of breath, which is one of the most common side effects of long-haul COVID, you’ll probably pay more. Do you need steroids too? You might see an even bigger price jump. But again, this lines up with how insurers were charging applicants circa December 2019, before COVID-19 hit the U.S. [4] Applicants with asthma have always paid more for life insurance.

The graph below shows how much more someone with moderate long-haul symptoms could end up paying for coverage.

GenderAgeNo major health issuesModerate long-haul symptoms
Female2521.2432.24
Male2527.139.58
Female3525.538.89
Male3530.3747.21
Female4547.5877.26
Male4560.8797.97
Female55108.34170.06
Male55151.88240.56

Methodology: Average rates are based on 20-year term, $500,00 life insurance policy for non-smoker males and females. This calculation is a composite of rates offered in the Policygenius marketplace, including AIG, Banner, Brighthouse, Lincoln, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica.

The mental health impact of long COVID is an overlooked side effect [5] that can impact your rates, as well. If you take more than one medication for depression or anxiety, your rates will go up. Applicants with depression or anxiety always see price hikes based on their medications. 

Symptoms like mild fatigue, on the other hand, shouldn’t impact your life insurance rates. 

"If you had COVID and are now symptom free (at least 30 days out) with no residual impact related to COVID, you will not be charged a higher premium. You would get the rates you would otherwise qualify for," says John Voelker, President at Voelker Underwriting Services, Inc.

So if you end up paying higher rates, it’s due to the health condition you developed because of long-haul COVID, and not the long-haul COVID diagnosis itself. 

How to find affordable coverage

Our advice for long haulers is the same as it is for everyone else — comparing prices from multiple insurers is the best way to get the most affordable coverage. While some insurers may charge you higher rates because of your long-haul symptoms, others may offer you the best possible prices for your age group. 

“I worked with someone who needed an inhaler because they had COVID-19, and their symptoms were severe enough that most insurers were either denying or postponing their application. But after working with multiple insurers, we were able to get her coverage with Preferred rates, which is the most competitively priced,” says John Harris, Senior Sales Associate at Policygenius. 

If you’re not sure where to get started, that’s what Policygenius is here for — we find the best insurers for your profile and advocate on your behalf so you pay the lowest possible price. 

How to protect yourself against COVID-19

Any downturn in your health means you’ll be paying higher rates for a new life insurance policy, so you should lock in coverage sooner rather than later. But the best way to protect yourself from getting long-haul symptoms is to get vaccinated. Breakthrough cases are 49% less likely to turn into long-haul COVID than cases experienced by unvaccinated people. If you do end up getting COVID and experiencing long-term symptoms, life insurance isn’t the only insurance plan you should have. A good health insurance plan to cover medical bills and disability insurance to pay a portion of your income if you can’t work are also important.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have to pay more for life insurance if you’ve had COVID-19?

A COVID-19 diagnosis itself won’t impact how much you pay, but if you experience any long-haul symptoms, you may have to pay more for life insurance.

Can you get life insurance if you’ve had COVID-19?

Yes, but you will likely have to wait 30-60 days after you test positive to get coverage.

How can I get lower life insurance rates?

If you end up getting long-haul COVID-19 symptoms, you should compare multiple policies to find the most affordable option.