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Who's the cash machine in your family?
Who’s the cash machine in your family?

Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, it’s no surprise that people are considering the potentially serious financial consequences, such as not having insurance in place to cover their income or mortgage payments.

For people looking at arranging cover now, and for those who have existing cover, a key concern is will the insurer pay out if a claim is made relating to Coronavirus?

The UK protection insurance industry (Life Insurance, Critical Illness and Income Protection) has a very positive record on life insurance claims. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), in 2019, 98% of all protection insurance claims were paid out.

We will have to wait until 2021 to get the overall UK insurance payout statistics for this year, but the insurer LV= has recently announced that they have so far paid out around £2.5 million in claims relating to Covid-19.

The key point to remember is that for Life Insurance, Critical Illness and Income Protection policies, Coronavirus has not changed the way in which claims are assessed.

Will my Life Cover policy pay out if I die of Coronavirus?

Short answer: Most likely, yes.

People who develop very serious Coronavirus symptoms will likely have to go into intensive care and be put onto ventilators. Some will recover but, sadly, some will die. For Life Cover policyholders who die as a result of the Coronavirus, a life insurance claim should not be affected, meaning that their loved ones will receive a payout from the insurer.

Will my Income Protection Cover policy cover me if I get Coronavirus?

Short answer: Probably, but it would need to be after the end of the deferment period – and, due to the nationwide lockdown rules, deferment periods are now generally longer for new policyholders.

Income Protection is designed to pay the policyholder part of their income if they’re unable to work due to illness or accident. If someone is not able to work due to ‘shielding’ or ‘self-isolation’ then that would not be covered by Income Protection insurance.

For people with existing Income Protection policies which have been taken out prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the terms and conditions remain unchanged. Insurers will pay Coronavirus-related claims on existing policies once the policyholder has reached the end of the deferred period if they still unable to return to work due to their illness.

For new Income Protection applications, some insurers have increased the minimum period before a claim can be made after the policy starts (this is known as a deferred period). The aim of this increase is to ensure that any period of self-isolation would have come to an end before a claim can be made. If the policyholder is ill with Coronavirus at the end of a deferred period and beyond, they would be eligible to submit a claim.

Will my Critical Illness Cover policy pay out if I get Coronavirus?

Short answer: In most cases no, but in a few cases possibly yes.

Most critical illness claims are unaffected by the current crisis because most policies pay out on the diagnosis of one of the qualifying named critical illnesses on the policy. The majority of existing policies will have been taken out before the virus was known about, and new policies do not include cover for Coronavirus.

The most likely situation where a Critical Illness claim relating to Coronavirus may be paid would be if the policyholder needed to be put onto a ventilator. Insurance companies’ policies differ in the terms about the amount of time and degree of loss of respiratory function to be eligible to make a claim.

Are prices increasing for Life Insurance, Critical Illness and Income Protection insurance due to Coronavirus?

Short answer: Generally, not at the moment.

So far, we’ve not seen a general increase in the cost of standard premiums, but this might change in the future if insurers feel it’s necessary to do so.

However, if you already have a policy in place, your monthly premiums are likely to be fixed or guaranteed (unless you have reviewable premiums, low start options or index linked cover).  

Now might be a good time to explore your Life Insurance options to protect your family and home in the event of death and/or critical illness and to insure your income.

Having  type 1 or type 2 diabetes often makes it harder or even impossible to find suitable Life Cover, Critical Illness Cover and Income Protection.

Life insurance companies typically have a range of different premium rates for people with diabetes. Different companies will place the same person in different price bands. The process of applying for cover can often take weeks – or even months – if medical reports need to be obtained and checked. And although the situation has somewhat improved for Life Cover in recent years, most insurers are still unwilling to consider Critical Illness or Income Protection for people with any type of diabetes.

How has the prospect of finding Life Cover been improved for people living with diabetes?

Well, there’s definitely some good news here.

In recent years, we’ve seen improvements in the prices for Life Cover typically offered to people with diabetes.

Another encouraging development we’ve seen with a couple of insurers: after starting the life insurance policy, the insurers reward policyholders by reducing premiums if the customer can demonstrate improved control (i.e. if their HbA1c reading comes down by a certain amount). We think this is a very encouraging sign, not just because it can make cover cheaper, but because it demonstrates that the insurance market is starting to consider how to adapt to the unique circumstances of people with long-term health conditions.

If certain criteria are met, it’s now possible for people living with diabetes to get a “fast-track” application, which means cover could be in place immediately. Less stress, more peace of mind – exactly the kind of innovation we want to see for people with long-term health conditions who want to protect their financial security and their family’s future.

What about Income Protection and Critical Illness Cover for people living with diabetes?

A year ago, there were hardly any options for people with diabetes to obtain Income Protection Insurance. For most it simply wasn’t available.

Moneysworth campaigned to improve that situation, and we’re pleased to see at least some people in the insurance industry listened to us!

With expert guidance, it’s now possible for some people who have type 2 diabetes to get Income Protection with no exclusions, subject to certain criteria. But for people with type 1 diabetes, although there is some availability, it’s extremely limited.

The situation for Critical Illness Cover has been slow to improve. It is now possible for people living with diabetes to obtain Critical Illness Cover – but the options are very limited and the chances of being offered cover are even narrower if they have type 1.

The small signs of progress we’ve seen in the market are a welcome start, but the fact is most insurance companies still don’t offer either of these protection products to people who have diabetes.

We want the insurance industry to see people living with long-term health conditions as a priority.

The charity Diabetes UK reports that there are around 3.7 million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, and that figure is predicted to rise to 5 million by 2025*.

In light of this, we firmly believe that the insurance market needs a surge of innovation to make its products and services more forward-thinking and inclusive.

Moneysworth wants to see cover options and availability broaden for people living with diabetes, and so we’ll continue to lobby the insurance industry.

* Source: Diabetes UK ‘Facts & Figures