Life Insurance for People with HIV

People with HIV might find it hard to get life insurance, but it’s not impossible. Learn about life insurance for people with HIV.

It wasn’t many years ago that HIV was treated as a death sentence. For most people who contracted the disease, it was just a matter of time before more and more serious health complications set in, almost always ending with tragedy.

Now, however, breakthrough after breakthrough has completely changed the outlook for those suffering from HIV. These days, the HIV-infected have every chance to live just as long as everyone else and live a relatively disease-free life.

The problem is that many insurance companies haven’t gotten this message yet, making life insurance for the HIV-positive hard to come by. It’s not impossible, however. By shopping around and knowing what to expect going in, even those living with HIV can still get decent, affordable life insurance.

Insurance is a Gamble

As you know, life insurance companies approach insurance policies as a betting game. These companies are betting that, if they issue enough policies to healthy, long-living people, many of these people will pay them a lot of money in the form of premiums before they really have to worry about paying off many policies. This is how they make money.

As a result, it’s very easy for the young and healthy to get life insurance. As you get older, or your health becomes compromised, those same companies stop viewing you as a sure thing and start to see you as a risk they aren’t willing to take. The thinking is simple: too many high-risk policies means the company starts paying out a lot more money instead of collecting on premiums.

Even though the outlook for HIV has changed drastically, most insurance companies still view HIV-positive people as high-risk customers. Taking on too many of these sorts of gambles, with no guarantee that the risk will pay off, can mean losing a lot of money. 

The Screening

Like we said above, though, this higher risk doesn’t automatically mean the insurance company will say no. Because HIV is not the death sentence it used to be, many companies out there are willing to at least consider offering policies to those with this disease. This usually happens on a case-by-case basis, and just like any potential life insurance policy, it typically begins with a health screening.

During any life insurance application you can expect to have to answer a lot of personal questions about your health and your lifestyle, and you can expect this to be even more thorough when dealing with HIV. The company is going to ask a lot of questions to ascertain exactly how much of a risk you might be. These questions will most likely include:

When were you diagnosed?

One of the first things the insurance company is going to want to assess is your long-term prospects. In this case, a longer history with HIV is actually a good thing, because it speaks to your ability to live with the disease and not have any serious side effects.

If you were recently diagnosed with the disease, this can be a red flag of sorts for the insurance company. Why? Because, unfortunately, not every HIV-positive person responds well to treatment. A newly diagnosed patient is a bit of a gamble because there’s no way to know if this person will actually be one of those that can remain healthy.

For this reason, it might be tempting to exaggerate how long you’ve been living with HIV. This would be a mistake, of course, because not only is lying to the insurance company a sure way to get denied, it brings us to the next point:

What is your medical and medication history?

In order for the insurance company to assess your risk, it’s going to need to take a deep dive into your medical history. Of course, this will mainly focus on your time and experiences living with HIV, and will go all the way back to when you were first diagnosed and how you contracted it. 

Since HIV can be transmitted a variety of ways the risk of your lifestyle might be a factor that they are considering. Be careful here; an insurance company has no business asking you about private things like sexual practices. However, other activities such as a history of drug use are open for discussion and can speak to your overall health and whether you make good choices.

After that, the insurance company will take an extensive look at your history since then. How often do you get sick? How serious has it been? What medications have you taken and are you taking currently? 

The company will want to get an idea of your overall health, how healthy you have been in the past and whether or not they can reasonably assume you will be healthy for the foreseeable future.

What is your CD4 count and viral count?

Many of the health questions they ask might be fairly standard for any applicant – after all, HIV isn’t the only health risk out there and companies are going to want to know the complete medical history of anyone before they offer an insurance policy – but of course, some questions are going to be much more tailored to HIV.

For example, one question you can be sure they will ask concerns your CD4 count. This number gives a good indication of the overall health of your immune system. The higher the number, the more T cells in your bloodstream. These cells are essential for fighting off infections. 

Because HIV specifically attacks immune systems, this CD4 count is a crucial number. If you have a good CD4 count (typically over 400 or so) then it means your immune system is still working properly. A low count, on the other hand, might indicate that HIV is attacking your immune system and opening your body up to infections, diseases, and other high-risk conditions that could disqualify you from getting insurance.

What healthcare are you receiving?

Another question they might ask is what sort of healthcare you are currently receiving. Are you regularly visiting a healthcare provider? Is this a person who specialized in HIV and HIV-related illnesses? Obviously, the better and more comprehensive your current care, the more likely the insurance company will be satisfied.

Types of Policies

One final factor that might come into play is the type of policy you’re looking for. Some policies are more high-risk than others, which could affect whether or not you may be offered one.

Term Life Insurance

By far, the easier type of policy to get is term life insurance. This type of insurance is temporary; you pay a set premium for an agreed amount of time. This is usually somewhere between 10 and 30 years. 

With term policies, your beneficiaries only get a payout if you actually pass away during the length of that term. So, once the policy’s term is up, it is over and there is no possibility of payout. In addition, there is no cash value built up in the policy – so, if you outlive it, you have nothing to show for it.

As you can imagine, this type of policy is more attractive to companies because they stand to gain a lot from it without ever having to pay any money back.

Whole Life Policies

While harder to get, whole life policies offer more advantages. For one thing, they exist forever until you cancel or pass away. There is no “end date” to a whole policy.

In addition, the money you pay into the policy stays in the policy as a cash buildup, which means you can actually draw from the policy as a sort of savings account if you find yourself in need of extra cash.

Contact Us Today

If you are living with HIV and looking for a company that will take a risk on you, you’ve come to the right place. We recognize that having HIV doesn’t automatically mean you’re too much of a gamble. We’d love to help you meet your insurance goals today. Get your free quote today or call us at 646-216-4199 to get started.