Over the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has swept the world, leaving people with more questions than answers. While it is scary and unpleasant to think about, the reality is that this novel coronavirus, called COVID-19, has an estimated mortality rate of approximately three percent. This relatively high mortality rate may leave you wondering if your life insurance covers death from coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know about life insurance and how it will be affected by this pandemic.
What Is the Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of zoonotic illnesses that can cause respiratory problems. SARS and MERS were examples of coronaviruses that have caused serious illnesses in the past, but the family also includes the common cold and other illnesses that are far less severe. In late 2019, a new strain of coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China, labeled COVID-19. The disease quickly spread to other parts of Asia and eventually to the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas. The World Health Organization has labeled it a pandemic, meaning it is an illness that has the potential to affect everyone on the planet.
The most serious outbreaks of COVID-19 are in China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Other European countries have seen a spike in cases over the last few days, as has the United States. Many countries are taking steps to prevent the spread of the illness by canceling large gatherings, closing schools and businesses, and quarantining those who have been exposed to it. China and South Korea are seeing their case numbers leveling out after taking these measures.
Understandably, the fast spread of COVID-19 has many people worried about their health and their future. The most notable symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The majority of cases are mild and can be treated at home with rest. However, severe cases can require hospitalization, as these patients may require assistance breathing. It is particularly dangerous for those who have underlying health conditions that can weaken their immune system or those over the age of 60.
Will My Existing Insurance Policy Cover Death From COVID-19?
Understandably, many people are worried about life insurance coverage in the event that they do pass away from complications related to the novel coronavirus. A life insurance policy protects your loved ones financially by covering the costs of your funeral, paying off your debts, and replacing any income you may have been using to support them. Luckily, if you already have an insurance policy in place, it will still cover you if you pass away from complications related to the coronavirus. This is true even if you have traveled to a coronavirus-inflicted area. This is because insurance companies can’t change policies that are already in place.
Can I Get a New Insurance Policy to Protect Me?
Understandably, many people are wondering if they can get new insurance policies to protect them during this challenging time. While you can still get a life insurance policy, it will be affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This is because there are a number of factors that insurance companies consider when evaluating your life insurance application and determining your premiums. When you apply for life insurance, your insurer will evaluate your health to determine how much of a financial risk you pose to the company. If you have any underlying health conditions, this will make your health insurance policy more expensive. Therefore, if you contract the coronavirus while you are applying for coverage, your premiums will go up dramatically. There is also a chance that you could be denied coverage, depending on your overall health status.
There are other factors that insurance companies take into consideration when you apply for a life insurance policy. One of the most relevant factors to consider during a pandemic is your location. If you live in an area that has seen an influx of cases, your premiums are going to be higher than if you live in an area that has been untouched or you may have a waiting period. Those who live in any dense metropolitan area will probably see slightly higher premiums regardless of the number of current cases in your area. This is because the virus can spread much faster in a large city. If you travel frequently or have recently traveled to an area with many cases of the virus, this can also affect your premiums. It is unclear exactly how life insurance companies will handle underwriting as the disease progresses in the United States.
If you are applying for life insurance during this time, it’s important to be honest on your application – even if it means your prices will be higher. If you lie on your life insurance application and the insurer finds out, it can result in you being denied coverage and your family not getting the financial support they need in the unlikely event that something happens to you.
If you’re struggling to get life insurance during this time due to your health or recent travel history, consider a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. These life insurance policies require very minimal screening and do not require a health examination. They don’t offer as much coverage as a normal term or universal life insurance policy, but they typically provide enough to cover funeral costs. You should also consider talking to an independent life insurance agent in your area. They are well versed in the insurance options offered throughout the region, so they’ll be able to help you find an option that works best for you.
How Can I Stay Safe?
This is a particularly scary time, but there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself and your family. Start by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Be conscious of how often you touch your face, as this is usually how viruses spread. Always cover your mouth with the crook of your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Everyone should consider limiting the amount of time they spend in public, and in particular should avoid large gatherings of people like concerts, conferences, sports games, and more. If you feel sick at all, you should stay home to be on the safe side. If you or someone you live with is immunocompromised, stay in as much as possible to reduce your risk. While these safety measures are tough to adjust to, they can help us reduce the spread of the virus much more quickly.
If you didn’t already have life insurance and think you might be at particular risk for COVID-19, applying for insurance now is a good way to protect yourself and your family financially. If you already have health insurance, don’t worry – you’ll still be covered if you catch the novel coronavirus.