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FAQs: Life Cover & Covid-19

 

Life Insurance and Covid-19 – Frequently Asked Questions

March 2021

 

Life insurance companies provide a number of financial products including life insurance, income protection, specified illness protection (both individual and through group / employer, known as protection products), pensions and investments.

Our life insurance members are strongly supporting their customers through the current crisis and are organising their resources to ensure that customer contact, servicing and payment of claims, remains of the highest priority. Additionally, our members are providing a variety of options and solutions that will assist with providing peace of mind and financial breathing space for their customers, their families and their businesses.

For many customers, particularly those with pensions and investments, it is important to obtain financial advice in relation to the options available. Where possible, customers should contact their financial adviser or broker for advice in availing of the most appropriate option for their personal circumstances.

We are aware that consumers have a number of questions and concerns regarding their policies as a result of Covid-19. The following Q&A may help customers to understand their options for their policy or new policy application.

 

Is Covid-19 covered under my life assurance policy?

A life insurance policy is designed to pay an agreed sum on the death of the life assured. If death occurs as a result of Covid-19, this will be covered under your life insurance policy.

 

Is Covid-19 covered under my specified illness cover?

Specified illness cover is designed to pay a lump sum on diagnosis of a specified illness. As Covid-19 is a relatively new illness, it is unlikely to be covered as a specified illness under this particular type of protection policy. However, if Covid-19 develops into one of the illnesses specified under the policy, you may be eligible to claim for this illness in accordance with the policy’s other normal terms and conditions.

 

Is Covid-19 covered under my income protection policy? Can I claim on this if I have been made redundant or lost my job as a result of Covid-19?

Income protection insurance is designed to replace some or all of your regular working income in the event that you are too ill to work for a period of time. This assumes that you will be medically advised to take time off work and most policies will require that a diagnosis of an illness, including Covid-19, has been received in order to claim on that policy. It should be noted that many policies will include a deferred period which must take place before the claim will be paid. You should contact your insurer or financial adviser for further details.

 

I’m taking out a new life assurance, income protection or serious illness policy. Will I be asked questions about Covid-19?

Yes. When you are taking out a life assurance/income protection or serious illness policy, a company is obliged to assess the risk involved as part of the application, so the existence or potential of any medical condition will have to be taken into consideration. Consequently, in an application, you will be asked questions about various conditions – including respiratory, cardiac or neurological conditions – like asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks or strokes and so on.  Covid-19 is no different to any other medical condition, and as it is still a relatively new illness, more questions may be asked specifically about it

 

What if I have Covid 19 symptoms – will I be asked about this and do I need to disclose this?

Yes, in line with the above, you may be asked specifically if you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms; have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19; are awaiting a test or have a confirmed positive test result.

 

Would this mean I won’t get a policy or that it will be more expensive?

If you have symptoms, are awaiting a test or test result or have had a recent positive test result, a decision on the application may be deferred for a short period of time to allow for recovery.  Most people make a full recovery from the virus and it’s unlikely an additional premium would be charged due to Covid 19. However, this does depend on each individual case, the severity of the impact of the infection and any residual/ongoing complications.

 

I have an existing/underlying medical condition, will this have an impact on my policy application?

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, most customers continue to be accepted at standard terms.  For a small number of customers with high-risk medical conditions, it may be necessary to defer making a decision on cover for a period of time. If that is the case, you will be told how long this is likely to be for.

 

I work as a healthcare/frontline worker – will I be able to get a policy during the pandemic?

The fact that you are a healthcare or frontline worker does not affect your application. You will be assessed against the same criteria as any other customer.

 

I have received my Covid-19 vaccination, will this be taken into account when assessing my application?

As the Covid-19 vaccination programme continues its rollout across Ireland, this will have positive impact in assessing the risk of Covid-19 for individuals, however, currently the vaccinations are not sufficiently widespread to allow for the full benefit. Our members look forward to being able to incorporate the Covid-19 vaccinations to support their risk assessments over the coming months.

 

What if I react negatively to the Covid-19 vaccine?

Evidence to date shows that most people receive the Covid-19 vaccination without major negative side-effects. Any significant negative reactions will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, taking account of the type of policy being applied for and how long the reaction lasted.

I can’t afford to pay my premium for my protection policy, but I want to keep the policy. Can my insurer help me?

There are a number of measures that may be available from your life insurance provider to assist you to continue with your policy in instances of financial stress. Many insurers will offer either a payment holiday or a reinstatement option. A payment holiday will allow you to defer your monthly premium for a certain number of months without losing cover on the policy (typically up to 3 months), so a valid claim during the payment holiday would still be covered under the policy. Other policies include a reinstatement option that allows the policy to be reinstated after a period of missed payments with little or no updated underwriting required. A premium holiday or a reinstatement option are not free insurance cover; you will be asked to pay the premiums missed at the end of the period. The terms of the payment holiday or reinstatement option available can be dependent on each individual case and individual insurance provider and you should contact your insurer as soon as possible to discuss your current situation to understand the options that are available to you.

 

Am I still covered under my Group insurance scheme?

Our members are mindful that many employers are also struggling to maintain viability in the current situation. Support for premium payments will be administered on a case-by-case basis and employers are encouraged to contact their insurer as soon as possible to discuss the range of options and solutions available.

 

The value of my pension/investment policy has dropped significantly. Should I cash it in?

Pension and investment policies are designed to be long-term investments to allow for the various ups and downs in the market over time. A crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic can have a negative effect on investments, and you may see the value of your policy falling. This can lead many customers to believe that cashing in the policy should be done quickly before the value decreases even more. However, previous experience of these type of crises suggests that cashing in early can reduce long-term returns. It is highly recommended that before you make a decision to cash in the investment, you consult with your broker or financial adviser to understand the impact this could have on your longer-term goals and objectives and to support you to make the best decision based on your personal circumstances.

 

Should I switch to a lower risk investment fund?

Again, switching the funds to a lower risk fund or cash, even for a short period, can have a significant and long-lasting negative impact on the long-term performance of the policy. Your insurer can explain your options to you, but you should always consult with your financial broker or adviser prior to making a decision to switch.

 

Will my Insurer remain open to handle claims and other policy queries?

Each of our member insurers has gone to extensive lengths to maintain services levels whilst encouraging their staff to work from home in line with Government guidelines. They remain available to help you understand the options available to you and to process claims and other transactions. All front-line staff have been fully briefed on a range of customer initiatives to support policyholders during the current crisis and you should contact your provider directly should you have any queries. It is recommended that you contact your insurer online or by email in the first instance where this is possible.

Insurance Ireland (Member Association) Company Limited by Guarantee trading as
Insurance Ireland. Registered in Ireland. No. 553048. Registered Office: Insurance Centre,
5 Harbourmaster Place, IFSC, Dublin 1. DO1 E7E8.

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