Swine Flu and Life Insurance

Swine Flu
The antigenic shift of swine flu
from pigs to humans.
image courtesy
U.S. National Institutes of Health

Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada reports that 10,890 Canadians have been diagnosed with the H1N1 Influenza, more commonly referred to as Swine Flu. This has led to 53 confirmed deaths and the unfortunate distinction of being the country with the highest number of confirmed cases per capita in North America.

With that title, the insurance industry couldn’t help but take notice. The onset of the virus has not caused a change in pricing, but many insurance companies have issued underwriting guidelines for applicants who have contracted the disease.

While Swine Flu is not directly mentioned on any current life insurance applications, the diagnosis can be revealed through indirect questions. Virtually all applications ask when was the last time the applicant visited the doctor and ask the applicant to provide the reason for the visit.

Applicants that carry Swine Flu generally fall into three categories:

Applicants who currently have the virus: Most insurance companies will not cover someone with Swine Flu. Some non-medical applications may be an option for those who want immediate coverage.

Applicants who were diagnosed, but not hospitalized: These applicants can generally qualify for traditional life insurance, but most insurance companies will want to see that the insured is free of symptoms and complications for at least three months.

Applicants who were diagnosed and hospitalized: Underwriting decisions can vary dramatically depending on the severity of the treatments. At a minimum, most life insurers will want a period of stability up to at least one year. The insured may have to get reinsurance as well. A reinsurance company shares the risk of an insurance policy with the original insurance company.

Underwriting requirements may very well change as more information on the H1N1 Influenza virus (Swine Flu) is released to the public. My article on Life Insurance and Underwriting may also be helpful.

Feel free to contact us at the office, 1.866.899.4849 if you have additional questions.

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