Insuring Positive People – By Chris Morgan

Insuring Positive People – By Chris Morgan

First published in 2004 and rewritten August 2010

This ‘Classic’ article from Positive Finance was first published in 2004 and it sums up how life used to be for those HIV Positive people seeking Life Assurance. It’s interesting to read, because it sums up just how far we have come.

Even though the market for HIV Life Assurance is still developing, it stil seems almost like a miracle that the Insurance industry finally now offer this product. Visit the other articles on this blog to find out if you qualify for HIV Life Assurance.

So, here’s a glimpse of what the world used to be like back in 2004 ….

PAST

Life Assurance cover for People living with HIV is the most frequently asked question that I’m unable to answer. People with families, people with partners and financial needs. The amount of business that I’m forced to turn away hurts. The fact that I’ve been unable to solve the problem so far hurts even more! There are few financial advisers in the UK with as much specialist knowledge of this market. There are few advisers who have such an insight into the personal financial needs of Positive people. It’s not the fact that I don’t want to provide life assurance for people with HIV. It’s not an easy job persuading life assurance underwriters to accept a perceived additional risk

PRESENT

Life Assurance

Insurance is a form of pooled security. The contributors all pay into the pot in the knowledge that not all of them will claim. The unfortunate ones that result in a claim, leave a brighter financial future for their loved ones.

So…….

I find the life companies attitude difficult to comprehend. After all, their business is covering risk to the community. Existing Home Insurance, Critical Illness and Travel policies all pool the risk involved, with the company taking out money for themselves – known as profit.

What’s my point you may ask?….

These companies do not have to treat people with HIV within their standard underwriting procedures. Positive people would probably be willing to cover each other, with their own pool of provision. In my experience people with HIV would probably be prepared to accept a few conditions, if it meant obtaining cover for the first time. From past conversations with potential clients, this would appear to be the case.

There have already been major breakthroughs in certain types of insurance.

TRAVEL

Many companies have managed to pool the risk involved with annual trip insurance. There are lessons to be learnt here, as medical related cover is provided in the form of expenses. These policies insure against injury/illness and hospital confinement as an inpatient. The re insurers behind each of these policies all assess risk in a different way. They ask a series of questions relating to past health, medication and cell count. They have then tailored their policies to appeal to different sections of the HIV community. Some charge a higher excess, some a higher premium and others offer lower amounts of cover. They are all profitable products to each individual provider, as they would not be able to continue offering their valuable services in the future, if they were not.

Chris also highlighted current examples of perceived higher risk groups that were able to obtain life assurance already …..

It didn’t seem fair that people with HIV were unable to get insurance.

SENIOR CITIZENS

There are specialist life cover plans for the more senior citizen. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this group of people are visibly, statistically and practically closer to “The Event”. They are still able to obtain insurance even at the ages of between 65 and 70.

These types of plans offer peace of mind through lower sums assured and deferred premiums. The individual is required to pay, say 12-24 months premiums before full benefits are offered. The premiums are returned if they die before their qualifying period is up. It’s not a perfect solution, but many are simply grateful to obtain some form of provision. This type of product is a great reassurance to senior citizens and provides a valuable service. I’m sure that companies in this market avoid making a financial loss, whilst providing this service.

DANGEROUS SPORTS

Most insurance companies cover activities that are considered to be dangerous. Divers. Private Pilots and Motor Racing Drivers are normally required to complete a further questionnaire on application. They are asked frequency of activity, where they perform and relevant qualifications/experience. The underwriter then assesses the case individually and makes an offer of acceptance to the applicant. This normally results in the policy being offered at a higher premium. Again, I’m sure it’s unusual for an insurance company to place themselves in a loss making position.

HEALTH RISKS

Insurance companies already cover higher health risks. If someone has recovered from certain forms of cancer, or…if someone suffers from arthritis of the joints it does not mean they cannot obtain life assurance. In each case there is a greater and noticeable risk, either of re-occurrence or incapacity leading to further illnesses and of course death. The companies handle the extra risk by again charging higher premiums. My advice to people in these situations is to take cover, as their need is obviously greater. The client will usually accept the company’s offer on my advice.

Positive Finance and Chris Morgan have been at the forefront of the campaign for HIV Life Assurance for over a decade …..

THE FUTURE

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not directly trying to compare people who are Positive to any one single group detailed above. What I’m saying is that each of these areas have lessons to underwriters that could be applied to provide policies for HIV people. Elements of these current insurable risks could point the way to making the transition from uninsurable to insurable. My point is that insuring higher risk is a lucrative market, with possible higher profit margins for any company that decides to take the plunge. If people with HIV were at least given a product option they would have been given the right to choose.

So what would a possible product look like? Here are a few suggestions. I have other ideas, but at this stage do not wish to spoil any future thunder.

SO, did any of our vision come true?

  • A period of contributions prior to qualification for full benefits, say 24 months. If the worst were to happen during the 24 months a full return of contributions paid to date. (NO, The new HIV Life Assurance policies cover people from Day One)
  • Could have a limited sum assured of maybe £10,000- £20,000 to start with. Option to increase cover after a certain length of time of satisfactory health and contributions. (YES, some of the new HIV Life Assurance policies do limit sum assured)
  • Varying levels of premium payable, depending on current and past health record at time of application. Doctor’s Report sent to GP with list a specific questions to establish current health status. (YES, HIV Life Assurance does require questions to be sent to your specialist)
  • Further medical possibly required to satisfy specific concerns if report does not satisfy all requirements. (YES, HIV Life Assurance requires blood testing in certain circumstances)
  • Policy could be designed to cover fixed term needs. i.e. mortgage or child education (YES, 10 years is the maximum fixed term for HIV Life Assurance at this moment in time)

All of these points, individually, in partnership or collectively could figure in the key features of my prototype policy. It’s up to the underwriters and re-insurers to give the community a product. People with HIV can then decide if it meets their needs. Due to past enquiries I suspect they would rather have some form of cover than not.

So here’s my challenge to all of those actuaries, re-insurers and underwriters out there…… Go on I dare you!

Positive Finance, the Finance Website and Now Blog for people living with HIV are very proud to have led the campaign for HIV Life Assurance and this article proves that we were in fact 5 years ahead of our time in 2005.

 

Most of our suggestions were taken on board by the Life Assurance industry, with our editor Chris Morgan sitting on the industry HIV Working Group that made HIV Life Assurance possible during the 5 years of our campaign.

 

If you require HIV Life Assurance advice please contact our sponsors Compass Mortgage & Insurance Services. They may be contacted by phoning 0845 474 3075 or by email enquiries@compassindependent.co.uk

 

Their website is www.compassindependent.co.uk

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