Vaccine could ease Covid underwriting restrictions

Vaccine could ease Covid underwriting restrictions
Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The coronavirus vaccine will lead to Covid underwriting restrictions being reduced or removed, according to an insurer.

Helen Croft, head of underwriting strategy at AIG Life, described the Covid vaccination programme as a “game-changer” for protection insurance underwriting as the probability of people dying from Covid-19 would be significantly reduced.

She added: “It will ultimately lead to pandemic-related underwriting restrictions being reduced or removed by insurers – perhaps sooner than advisers think.”

Last year some protection advisers reported difficulties in finding cover for clients during the pandemic, due to underwriting changes that were affecting clients with conditions that made them more vulnerable if they contracted the coronavirus.

Croft said: “With the plans to vaccinate all the higher risk groups by end of May, change is in sight.”

But the industry seems split on the issue, while some protection providers agreed change could happen others said they had no plans to ask customers whether they had been vaccinated.

John Downes, director of underwriting and claims at VitalityLife, said the provider currently had no plans to change its protection underwriting process for those who have or have not had the vaccine.

Peter Hamilton, head of market engagement at Zurich, also said it was too early to say if it could become a more formal part of the underwriting process in future, but indicated it was unlikely.

He added: “We don’t ask about flu or other vaccinations and the current sense is it is unlikely we would change question sets specifically.”

Likewise, Scottish Widows said it currently did not plan to request results of vaccines on applications, adding that it did not ask about other vaccines during underwriting.

But Scottish Widows said it was closely monitoring the impact of the coronavirus and vaccination rollout, and would continue to update its approach to underwriting as new data and studies evolve.

Robert Morrison, global life chief underwriter, health and protection at Aviva, similarly said the insurer had not introduced vaccine-related questions at this stage, but that it would continue to review its underwriting criteria.

Morrison said: “As we have done throughout the pandemic, we will continue to regularly review our underwriting criteria, taking into account the progress of the vaccination programme, the efficacy of vaccines and the impact that has on the pandemic.”

Over 22m people have received their first dose of the Covid jab since the vaccination programme began in December. Of these more than 1m have received a second dose, according to government data up to March 9.

Craig Paterson, chief underwriter at Royal London, said the company was closely monitoring the vaccine rollout to determine how it would impact their application process and underwriting approach, if at all.

Kathryn Knowles, managing director at Cura, said she felt a question about the vaccine could be put to clients who are considered a higher underwriting risk.