Life Insurance – Swine flu surprise

We first warned our readers about how catching the Swine Flu could put at risk your life insurance plans in July this year.

swine flu life insurance moneysense
November 2009

Alas we were right and the Canadian personal finance magazine Moneysense has just run an article on the issue of Swine Flu and life insurance, quoting me.

It’s nice to see things early, but it’s not so nice for those who catch the Swine Flu and are unable to obtain life insurance for a year, with small children at home.

If you are thinking of getting life insurance and have not yet had the swine flu, move fast. Once you have the flu, it’s too late as anything less than full disclosure puts your policy at grave risk.

With or without life insurance, the best way to deal with Swine Flu is not to get sick with it in the first place. We just published our tips on how to minimize your risk of coming down with Swine Flu.

Be healthy, be safe.


Here’s the Money Sense article:

Hundreds of thousands of Canadians could come down with the H1N1 flu this season. If you’re among them, and your brush with the deadly bug motivates you to take out life insurance, get ready for a shock. Insurance companies may treat you like you have the plague.

LSM Insurance representatives say that insurance companies won’t treat you differently if you have the regular flu, unless you end up in hospital. But underwriters are breaking down H1N1 applicants into three categories: those who currently have the flu, those who had a mild case and recovered, and those who were hospitalized. Those who have it now won’t be considered for coverage until they get better, they say, while those who have recovered from a mild case have to wait two to three months. Those unlucky enough to be hospitalized may not qualify for life insurance for a full year.

LSM’s assessment is based on feedback from insurance industry underwriters. But when contacted by MoneySense, several insurance companies denied having such rules. One spokesperson told me I could qualify for a policy even if I had the swine flu right now.

To check, we called her company’s 1-800 number and asked to take out life insurance. We pretended that we’d recently been released from hospital with a bout with swine flu. After several back and forths with an underwriter, the phone representative said the company wouldn’t consider us until two to three months after a doctor said we were cured. “They want to see some stability before they make a decision,” we were told. “Who knows if you’re more prone to getting it again.” The good news: assuming we did qualify for insurance later, we wouldn’t be penalized for having had H1N1.

To avoid such delays, LSM Insurance team suggests that if you’ve been thinking about getting life insurance, you may want to do it now, while you’re still healthy. If it’s too late, and you need to get life insurance right after a bout of the swine flu, your only immediate option is a policy that doesn’t require disclosure of any medical information. The premiums on such policies, however, can be awfully steep —usually three times as much as a normal policy.

Article by Rob Gerlsbeck

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  • Jason
    October 19, 2013 at 1:20 am

    Is there still a swine flu question on life insurance apps

    • LSM Insurance
      October 19, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Hi Jason, It depends on the carriers, each application is different, most carriers do not have a specific on swine flu question, but it may be captured in one of their catch all type questions.

  • Quentin
    July 13, 2013 at 10:29 am

    If I had swine flue before but fine now do I still have to mention it if I apply. ty

    • LSM Insurance
      July 13, 2013 at 11:35 am

      You would have to check the wording of the question, if it ask about swine flu specially or a related question you are obliged to disclose it even if you are now healthy. The same thing would apply to a heart attack or other illness you have recovered from. Having said that if there were no complications and no other issues you should still qualify for standard rates

  • Cathy
    June 7, 2013 at 2:31 am

    I am applying for life insurance. Do I have to mentioned if I was hospitalized for swine flu?

    • LSM Insurance
      June 7, 2013 at 8:30 am

      Thanks Cathy. If the application has a question on hospitalization within the period you were hospitalized you would have to answer “yes” and give details. The good news if this was a while ago and you are stable you will likely qualify for standard rates/

  • LSM Insurance
    November 7, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Hi Claudette,

    Thanks for the note. You may have misunderstood things. Existing policyholders who die as a result of swine flu would be covered so long as they did not lie on the application.

    Regards … Lorne

  • Claudette
    November 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm


    I read your piece and the referenced article and was totally stunned! I should not have been surprised that another way has been found to either get more money out of people or keep them away from their money. All those who have insurance already and God forbid have to make a claim will now, I am sure, have to prove that swine flu was not a factor!!!