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HIV and the protection industry

This article is part of
Guide to Unusual Risks Protection

HIV and the protection industry

Providing cover for people suffering from HIV has not always been easy, as most insurers even 10 years ago would automatically decline an application from someone with this infection.

While one or two specialist providers occupied this niche, it was not until 2009 that Vitality Life, became the first mainstream UK provider to cover individuals with well-managed HIV.

In fact, Chris Morgan, lead financial adviser for Compass Independent and Unusual Risks Mortgage and Insurance Services (Unusual Risks), led the campaign which resulted in the introduction of life assurance for HIV positive people in 2009.

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Mr Morgan was part of the working group which co-wrote the HIV and insurance guidelines used by insurers today.

He was also responsible for the removal of what was called the ‘Gay Question’ from life assurance proposals back in 2005, believing this could prejudice some insurers and underwriters against people who were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

Each year, his Unusual Risks business conducts a survey into the average amounts of life assurance for which HIV-positive men and women are insuring themselves.

As at November 2015, HIV-positive people taking out cover in the UK are insuring themselves for an average of £137,192.

In 2014, the average figure was only £114,607.

According to Mr Morgan, the substantial increase in 2015 was mainly due to some of the insurers increasing the maximum amounts of life insurance they were prepared to offer someone living with HIV.

However, advisers will need to check the terms offered carefully, because there is a range of terms on offer.

Mr Morgan says: “HIV people can now get life insurance with a number of UK insurers but the terms can vary wildly between different providers.”

Paul Reed, director for Vita, says: “There is a lot of focus on how the condition is being treated, whether it is highly active antiretroviral therapy (Haart) or ART treatment.

“If there is no treatment, then some insurers will decline outright. If treatment is being used, insurers need to consider the applicant’s CD4 count, which is a type of white blood cell that fights infections.

“They will also need to consider the age of the applicant and the time lapsed since diagnosis. The term of cover could also be restricted in some instances.”

But there is movement to make it better, as Charlie Campbell, protection and health policy adviser for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), explains: “HIV is treated by insurers like any other medical condition.

“The ABI is working with members and HIV organisations to ensure people with HIV understand their insurance options and tackle the misconception that having HIV means you cannot have life insurance.”

How does Hep B and C fit into life cover?

Some insurers may point-blank refuse to cover someone with well-managed HIV who may have also been given a recent diagnosis of Hepatitis C, as Hep C can be a big risk for an HIV-infected person.

However, if the same person has got chronic Hepatitis B or C and is undergoing a treatment regime, some life companies may provide cover.