Recent changes in the underwriting guidelines of some companies are making it possible to get traditional, fully underwritten life insurance with an HIV-positive diagnosis.
Even if you have been declined before, you may now qualify for regular life insurance. The underwriting criteria in particular spells out what is permitted and what will be postponed or rejected.
Most companies will want at least one if not five years to pass since your HIV diagnosis. You will need to show a favorable treatment response for at least the past six months. You cannot have Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B or C.
Beyond that, each life insurance company has its own set of criteria.
How to Save Money on Life Insurance with HIV or AIDS
Finding life insurance with HIV or AIDS is not the easiest task in the world. However, you can do this. It is possible. Before we dive into which companies will issue standard life insurance policies, this is how you can save money on your life insurance policy.
Finding an affordable life insurance policy can initially seem like an enormous challenge. If you follow the steps below, you can save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars.
Know Exactly How Much Life Insurance You Need
Believe it or not, some families buy way too much life insurance. While it’s better to be over-insured than under-insured, it can also be a waste of money.
Instead of following guidelines like buying 3x, 7x, or 15x your annual income, use a Life Insurance Needs Calculator. This tool accounts for things like your children, your mortgage, and any debt.
This also prevents your family from being under-insured, where your benefits are not enough to cover their financial needs.
Work with an Independent Agent for Life Insurance with HIV or AIDS
Doing your research on the best life insurance companies for a pre-existing medical condition is a smart way to start. You can find a lot of information about which companies offer the best rates for different scenarios.
You can also use an independent life insurance agent to do the research for you. Independent life insurance agents work with multiple companies. They have the experience to know which ones offer the most lenient underwriting guidelines for any medical condition.
The other type of life insurance agent is called a captive agent. They work for one life insurance company and are contractually bound only to sell the products of that company. If their underwriting guidelines aren’t amenable to your condition, there is nothing anyone can do about it.
Term is Cheaper Than Permanent, but Not Necessarily Better
Term life insurance expires. It runs for a predetermined length of time. Since many people survive their terms, that’s less money the insurance company has to pay in claims. The less they have to pay in claims the less they have to charge on their policies to stay in business.
Permanent life insurance lasts until age 121, which is longer than almost everyone will live. Because this is a near-guaranteed claim for the insurance company, they have to charge more.
Term is around 10x cheaper than permanent life insurance. But is it right for you?
The type of life insurance that’s best for your family depends on what you are looking to cover with this insurance. If it’s final expenses like a burial, permanent might be better. If it’s to make sure your spouse can stay in the home without worrying about mortgage payments, term is better.
When you take the extra costs of life insurance with HIV/AIDS into consideration, term will be much more affordable for most people.
How Life Insurance Companies Underwrite HIV and AIDS
For the last several decades, every life insurance company automatically declined patients for standard life insurance policies. Even with the great strides in life expectancy for people living with HIV, most life insurance companies today will still reject applications for standard policies.
With over 850 life insurance companies in the U.S. today, there are only a handful that will approve people with an HIV diagnosis for a standard life insurance policy.
A standard policy is one that doesn’t take any special provisions into account. A term policy or a whole life insurance policy are both examples of a standard policy. A guaranteed issue policy, on the other hand, is not a standard policy even if it is available through most companies.
The three best life insurance companies offering fully underwritten policies (including the medical exam) for people with an HIV diagnosis are:
- American National
- John Hancock
Not everyone will qualify for policies from these companies. They have specific underwriting guidelines for HIV which will differ between them.
Success Story for Life Insurance with HIV
Jen (name changed for privacy) was diagnosed with HIV 12 years ago when she was pregnant. The child was born healthy, and Jen began following her doctor’s orders to the letter.
At the time she couldn’t get life insurance to support her kid if anything happened to her. No company would even consider it, so she never bothered applying.
She recently reconsidered as her son was growing up and her health became increasingly stable with newer treatments available.
When she reached out to us, we pre-screened her application with all three companies listed above. Her CD4 count had been stable for the past 7 years. After looking at the tentative ratings, American National approved her with a Table 5 rating.
Top 3 Life Insurance Companies for HIV
Before we go any further, if you have recently received an HIV diagnosis, your application will be declined. This goes for every life insurance company. Even the ones who cover people with an HIV diagnosis want to see how you respond to treatment before issuing the insurance.
You need to wait at least a year after your diagnosis. Sometimes insurance companies will want to see up to 5 years of medical records. This time allows you to build up the medical records showing that you are both following your doctor’s orders and your body is responding well to the prescribed treatment.
All three of these companies issue policies with table ratings. If you have HIV, it is not possible to get traditional life insurance with standard rates.
Table rates are the term for charging extra premiums on top of standard or regular rates. Each table rating is roughly an additional 25% extra premium.
Companies either use letters or numbers for table ratings. You might see “Table A” with one company and “Table 1” with another. Both of these would be an additional 25%. Table 2 or Table B would be an extra 50% and so forth.
Underwriting Guidelines for HIV with American National
When you apply for a policy through American National Life Insurance Company, they allow for coverage ranging from $250,000 to $1,000,000 for someone who is HIV positive. They will not go any lower than $250,000.
If you need more than $1,000,000 in coverage, you will have to get any amount over that limit from another life insurance company.
American National uses a 2 stage underwriting approach for HIV patients.
Initially, you will need to provide the following information:
- Stating HIV diagnosis on your application
- Length of time since you received the HIV diagnosis
- List all treating physicians and medications prescribed
- Provide 5 years of medical records or all medical records since the date of diagnosis if less than 5 years
- Full lab work including a drug screen and hepatitis panel
American National will also check several databases after receiving these records for the preliminary underwriting. These databases include the prescriptions database and LRC score.
After the initial review, there is a second part. The next hurdles involve confirming that you meet the following criteria:
- You have a stable and undetectable viral load
- CD4 count is >500
- Evidence of excellent compliance with anti-retroviral therapy (ART) along with at least 6 months of follow-up from the treating doctor
- Zero evidence of any drug abuse
- No AIDS-defining condition for more than 5 years
- Must not have an additional infection from Hepatitis B or C
- No other underlying medical conditions which would merit a Table 4 rating or higher
Possible Underwriting Outcomes
In the best case scenario, American National will issue a Table 4 rating. Most applicants can expect anywhere from a Table 6 to a Table 8 rating.
Underwriting Guidelines for HIV with John Hancock
John Hancock issues both permanent and term life insurance policies for HIV patients. The minimum they will issue is $250,000. The maximum is $2,000,000 in death benefits.
They exclude the following riders when applying for a policy with HIV:
- Long Term Care Rider
- Waiver of Premium Rider
- Accelerated Death Benefit Rider
To qualify for a John Hancock life insurance policy, you must meet the following criteria:
- Age 30 to 65
- State that you have HIV on your application
- Minimum of 5 years of compliance with antiretroviral therapy (ART) without any lapses or delays in your treatment regimen
- At least 2 years with your CD4 count of 350 cells / mm3, including your current CD4 count
- Your current viral load and the past two years of records must show undetectable levels (less than 20 copies/ml or below the current detectable laboratory limit)
- Negative for Hepatitis B and C
John Hancock will not approve your application if any of the following conditions apply:
- New or recent diagnosis of HIV
- Any AIDS defining illness
- Medical evidence of viral resistance to treatment
- Any history of intravenous drug use, alcohol abuse, or polysubstance abuse
- Coronary artery disease
- Hepatitis B or C
- Any psychiatric conditions usually qualifying for ratings
- Low or decreasing body build that would typically qualify for ratings
- Malignant tumors
Your rates will depend on many other factors, including the following:
- Your age at the time of application
- Date of HIV diagnosis
- Stable clinical course supported by medical documentation
- Adherence and response to Anti-Retroviral Treatment
- Absence of immunosuppression and co-morbid conditions such as diabetes or coronary artery disease
- Tobacco use
If you are looking for a second-to-die policy, the HIV-positive spouse will be rated along the guidelines below. There will be no additional rating on the HIV-negative spouse.
Possible Underwriting Outcomes
Everyone diagnosed with HIV will get a table rating if they meet John Hancock’s underwriting criteria. The extra premium will be 250% to 400%. They also add an additional $2 for younger people.
Underwriting Guidelines for HIV with Prudential
Prudential also offers life insurance policies to HIV-positive applications. Like the last two companies, not every application will qualify. You must meet Prudential’s underwriting guidelines before they’ll consider the application.
HIV applicants can only apply for a 10-year or 15-year term life insurance policy. The face amounts start at $100,000 and can go up to $2,500,000.
If you are hoping for a permanent policy from Prudential, both the 10-year and the 15-year term offer a conversion feature. This allows you to convert the term policy into a universal permanent life insurance policy. They do have some criteria for their conversion requirements, so many sure to look at the fine print on the contract.
To apply with Prudential, you must meet the following requirements:
- Between ages 30 and 60
- Reside in the United States (excluding Vermont and Hawaii because of state restrictions)
- HIV must not have occurred due to intravenous drug use or blood transfusions
- Date of original diagnosis must be over a year ago
- At least 6 months of records on anti-retroviral treatment
- Stable medical regimen for six months before an application
- Minimum of 2 acceptable and recorded CD4 counts and viral load results post medication change
- Viral load is stable, undetectable, and less than 200 copies/ml
- CD4 count and viral load must be recorded within 6 months of your life insurance application
- No AIDS-defining condition
- Consistently comply with your treatment regimen, doctor’s recommendations for follow-up care, and routine testing for CD4 counts and viral load
- No Hepatitis B or C
- No tuberculosis (TB) or non-TB mycobacterial infections
Finally, your CD count must fall within one of the two ranges below:
Untreated – No history of CD4 count ever being less than 200. This includes the time of diagnosis. The CD4 count must be stable and greater than 500, with no physician plan to initiate treatment.
Treated – A history of a CD4 count of less than 200 is acceptable if the condition has been successfully treated for more than 5 years. The CD4 count must be higher than 500 after the treatment was initiated and currently must be at least 350 and stable.
Possible Underwriting Outcome
The minimum rating Prudential will offer an HIV patient is Table H. They may give higher ratings depending on your medical history.
What if I don’t meet any of those underwriting requirements?
Don’t worry. There are still policies that will approve you.
If you don’t currently meet the fairly strict underwriting guidelines above, there are still policies you can look into.
Guaranteed issue life insurance means that everyone within the age range gets approved. The insurance company cannot decline you.
There is no medical exam. Neither does the application ask any health questions. Most policies can be issued within 48 hours.
These are a last resort type of health insurance. It could also be something to hold you over if you’ve been recently diagnosed or are still in the process of seeing how you respond to treatment.
Most companies only offer policies to people between the ages of 50 and 85. However, you can find some companies who accept anyone over 18.
There are a couple catches to guaranteed issue life insurance. The first is that the death benefits range between $5,000 and $25,000.
The second drawback is they offer graded benefits. Graded benefits mean that you must survive two years (sometimes three) before the company will pay your beneficiary the entire benefit. Before that, point the benefits are on a schedule.
For example, if you pass away within the first year, your beneficiary might receive 110% of the premiums paid. The next year might be 80% of the death benefit. This does not count any accidental deaths, like a car accident.
What if I’ve been previously declined for life insurance because of HIV?
That’s okay. When companies change their underwriting guidelines, they are often willing to reconsider applications that now meet their underwriting criteria.
However, if you have been declined for life insurance before, it’s essential to tell your agent which company and how long ago. Insurance agencies share a database of previous declines and other application notes. So you can’t pretend it never happened.
When you tell your agent, they can do a pre-screen with the company you are considering. This will let you know ahead of time what effect the decline will have on your current application.
Conclusions on Life Insurance with HIV
If you have HIV and are looking for life insurance, one of these three companies may be able to help. It will all depend on your medical records. If you don’t qualify or have an AIDS-defining condition, guaranteed issue life insurance may be your only option. But you should talk to an independent agent first, just in case.
Life insurance companies change their underwriting guidelines regularly. They are slow to catch up to medical advances but eventually do.
How Abrams Insurance Solutions Can Help
We are an independent life insurance agency. Working with over 70 of the top-rated life insurance companies in the nation allows us to find the right company for any pre-existing medical condition.
We work for our clients, not for any insurance company. This allows us to pit companies against each other to fight for your business.
If you have HIV or AIDS, our friendly agents are right here to answer any questions you have about getting life insurance to protect your family. If a company comes back with an offer we think is unfair, we won’t rest until we can see if someone else can do better.
Give us a call today at 858-703-6178 to see how we can help.