Nearly every conversation I have with family, friends and coworkers begins with discussing the latest COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus) news and how the situation is evolving in our communities. Can you relate?
Earlier this week, our New York City-based office implemented a work-from-home policy to help keep our colleagues healthy and do our part to prevent the virus’s expansion. Yesterday, my mom and I canceled our late April mother-daughter trip to Paris. Today, my friend Hela, who happens to be a Haven Life customer, asked if her life insurance policy covers death from a pandemic like COVID-19. As she put it, “I want to make sure that if I die, it won’t be excluded as some sort of global health crisis.”
We realize that, like Hela, you may feel uncertain about whether your life insurance covers the coronavirus. Below we’re providing clarity around some questions Haven Life customers or those shopping for life insurance might have. If we missed your question, our customer success team is happy to assist in answering. Please keep in mind that protocol related to COVID-19 will likely vary across the life industry. These responses are specific to policies sold by Haven Life, which are all underwritten and issued by our parent company MassMutual.
– Brittney and the Haven Life team
COVID-19 impact for our customers
Q: Does my policy cover death from COVID-19 or a pandemic?
A: Policies sold by Haven Life, which are issued by our parent company MassMutual, do not include any exclusions related to death from COVID-19 or a pandemic overall. As long as you were honest on your application about preexisting conditions and plans for travel, your life insurance covers death from the coronavirus.
Q: Does the two-year contestability period impact whether I’m covered from death by COVID-19?
A: First, some background: your life insurance policy is a contract between you and a life insurer. A two-year contestability period is a common clause across the industry that protects insurers from fraud or false information on applications within the first two years the coverage is in place.
The two-year contestability period does not mean that insurance companies won’t pay claims within the first two years of owning a policy. It simply means that death within the first two years of owning a policy will be more thoroughly reviewed during the claims process to ensure application information was truthful and complete. Therefore, if you honestly answered the questions in the life insurance application, then you have little reason to be concerned about whether or not a claim related to COVID-19 would be paid.
Q: If I contract COVID-19, can I utilize the accelerated death benefit rider?
A: Currently, the majority of COVID-19 cases are not fatal for younger, healthier individuals, which many of our customers are. And to access the accelerated death benefit rider, a policyholder must be terminally ill with a documented life expectancy of two years or less.
If a policyholder were to become terminally ill due to COVID-19, they can access 75 percent of their death benefit or up to $250,000, whichever is less. Please keep in mind that whatever funds are accessed will be subtracted from the overall life insurance policy payout made to beneficiaries. For example, if a policyowner has a $500,000 policy and accesses $100,000 of the funds using the accelerated death benefit provision, their beneficiaries would receive a payout of $400,000.
Q: Will COVID-19 impact MassMutual’s financial stability and claims-paying ability?
A: Life insurance companies receive ratings from third-parties about their financial stability and claims-paying ability – with MassMututal receiving high marks across all agencies. Therefore, top-rated companies generally have the financial resources and re-insurance support to meet their financial obligations.
COVID-19 impact for those applying for life insurance
Q: Can I get coverage if I recently traveled to or plan to travel to China, Italy or other affected regions?
A: Underwriting guidelines as a result of COVID-19 are evolving. For individuals who are applying for our MassMutual-issued policies, there may be additional questions in the underwriting process about international travel and potential waiting periods for a decision as a result of travel to higher-risk countries.
Coverage eligibility for life insurance applicants with travel plans to State Department Level 3 or 4 countries (which currently includes China, Italy, South Korea and others) will be postponed and require a 30-day waiting period after they return to the U.S. Once the 30 days have passed, individuals may reapply. This waiting period and applicable countries may change as we learn more. Additionally, if you have recently returned from international travel with an illness, then a decision on coverage eligibility would be postponed until after the 30-day waiting period.
If you would like specific questions answered regarding your travel plans and if there will be a waiting period, our customer success team is happy to assist.
Q: Are life insurance premiums going up as a precaution?
A: Premium pricing is not increasing as a result of the evolving COVID-19 situation.
Please keep in mind that if an applicant contracts an illness, then that could increase the cost of the premium or make an applicant ineligible for coverage.
Q: Can I still get instant, no medical exam life insurance coverage?
A: You might have guessed we’d say this, but: the answer to this may evolve over time, too.
Currently, eligible applicants may either qualify for our InstantTerm, no medical exam experience or may be able to get temporary coverage in place while they complete a medical exam and await the results. Due to the need for additional caution surrounding international travel, you may need to answer some questions from an underwriter about future plans before receiving an offer. Keep in mind that it’s always very important to be honest in the application process. The issuance of the policy or payment of benefits may depend upon the truthfulness of answers provided in the application process.
Whether some follow up questions or a medical exam are needed, we work very hard to make dependable buying term life insurance as simple as possible. Once an application is submitted, which takes about 15 minutes, you will be notified of whether you are approved for coverage or if more information is needed.
Q: How does two-year contestability work if I get covered tomorrow and contract COVID-19 in the near future?
A: The industry-standard, two-year contestability period does not mean a life insurance company won’t pay a claim within the first two years of coverage. This provision in your life insurance contract protects the company from fraud or false application information. It simply means that death within the first two years of owning a policy will be more thoroughly reviewed during the claims process to ensure application information was truthful.
If you were honest on your life insurance application, including sharing health conditions or international travel plans, then you have little reason to be concerned about if a claim related to COVID-19 would be paid.
Q: Are you still performing life insurance medical exams?
A: We are monitoring COVID-19 very closely and could make some process adjustments as the situation evolves. Currently, applicants are still able to schedule the medical exam to be performed at a location of their choosing. For the health of paramed examiners, please do not schedule a medical exam if you are sick or if the location where you plan to take the exam may be contaminated.
Q: If I’m sick should I take a medical exam?
A: Generally, if you are experiencing any type of illness, it’s important to postpone taking the life insurance medical exam until you feel better. Being under the weather can skew the results of your medical exam, which would not present the underwriting team with an accurate depiction of your health.
If you have any concerns that you might be sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please contact a medical professional immediately and do not schedule a medical exam.
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