A lot of our clients are getting in touch concerned about whether their insurance would pay out should they get coronavirus. We have put this guide together to summarise the position with regards to each protection insurance policy and whether they would pay out.
While there don’t tend to be blanket exclusions on policies for pandemics, and existing policies should pay out, new policies taken out during the outbreak may include coronavirus exclusions depending on your circumstances, state of health, travel history or simply at the insurer’s discretion.
The good news is that if you have an existing policy taken out before the outbreak, you should be covered under Income Protection Insurance and Life Insurance, the two most common policies people tend to be concerned with when it comes to coronavirus.
For new policies taken out during the outbreak, whether you can get cover or not will depend on your circumstances.
For instance, if you’ve already developed the virus, or have been at major risk of contracting the virus, including travel to areas with high incidence of the virus, in the past 14 days, you may have your policy deferred until you’re well again or have passed what is believed to be the virus’ incubation period, where it can lie dormant without symptoms.
Whether or not you can get cover can also be insurer dependent, with the situation being fluid and rapidly changing. Some insurers are moving to exclude coronavirus from new policies taken out after a certain date, especially for those policies with short deferral periods, while others are still willing to offer cover. Check with your adviser and carefully read insurers’ terms and conditions for more on this.
If you held an existing Income Protection policy before the outbreak, insurers will honour the terms of the contract. This means if you can’t work for any medical reason, including contracting coronavirus, the policy should pay out.
This is providing you’re ill for longer than your deferral period, which is the period you chose at the outset of the policy to wait before your coverage kicks in and starts paying you an income.
Unfortunately, Income Protection is not set up to cover self-isolation as a result of the coronavirus, even if it’s as a result of government advice. It will only pay out if you’re too ill to work; this doesn’t include self-isolation when you have no symptoms and no positive test for coronavirus.
If you test positive during a period of self-isolation, most insurers are looking to assess claims as usual providing you hold an existing policy that was in place before the outbreak took hold.
Whether coronavirus will be covered on a new Income Protection policy taken out during the outbreak will depend on your circumstances, as well as the insurer you apply with and their stance at the time of the application.
Some insurers have moved to exclude coronavirus from any new policies with deferral periods of less than 1 month. The deferral period is the length of time you must be off work sick before the policy kicks in and starts paying out, with the shortest deferral periods being as little as 1 week.
This means that for a new policy with shorter deferral periods, you may not be able to make a claim for any coronavirus infection.
Not all insurers have made this move as of March 17th 2020, although the situation is developing rapidly and this could change.
Life Insurance pays out if you pass away during the term of the policy, leaving a lump sum to your family.
If you held an existing Life Insurance policy prior to the outbreak and develop coronavirus and unfortunately pass away from the disease, your loved ones should be entitled to this payout.
No, Life Insurance is designed to pay out on death only. It doesn’t cover periods of sickness or self-isolation as a result of government mandates.
For new policies taken out during the outbreak, especially as it develops further, you may face coronavirus exclusions. This will depend on your circumstances and the insurer’s stance at the time of your application.
You’ll likely be asked about recent travel to ‘hotspot’ regions, such as China, or about any symptoms. It’s possible the insurer will look to defer your application if you’ve recently returned from a trip abroad or have developed coronavirus symptoms until it’s clear whether or not you already have the virus.
While as of March 17th 2020, we’re not aware of any Life Insurance providers looking to exclude coronavirus going forward, the situation is unfolding quickly and this could change.
While Income Protection and Life Insurance will cover the coronavirus, it’s unlikely a Critical Illness policy will. This is because Critical Illness Cover is designed to pay out on diagnosis of a set list of specified, critical conditions.
Coronavirus isn’t on that list of conditions, which includes illnesses such as cancer, heart attack and stroke.
If you have an existing Life and Critical Illness Insurance policy, the Life Insurance element should typically still pay out should you pass away, however.
No, you’d need to be critically ill with one of the illnesses listed in the policy to make a claim.
No, as per above Critical Illness only covers a set list of serious illnesses.
Health Insurance pays out for the treatment of acute medical conditions in a private hospital setting. It’s designed to offer treatment privately, often far faster than the NHS can provide it.
However, with coronavirus, private hospitals don’t tend to have the facilities to deal with the outbreak that NHS hospitals have. This includes easy access to Accident & Emergency departments and intensive care beds, as well as isolation units and other infectious disease controls.
If you’re admitted to hospital because you have coronavirus and your symptoms warrant it, you’ll likely be admitted as an emergency case, which Private Health Insurance doesn’t cover anyway.
You’ll also need treatment in isolation from other patients and with proper infection control measures, which the NHS is much better set up to provide than any private hospital.
What you may receive depending on your insurer and your policy is a fixed lump sum for each night spent in an NHS hospital with the illness, although whether this applies to you will depend on your policy’s terms.
There is actually more than one coronavirus — coronavirus is simply the name of a group of viruses which, under an electron microscope, have characteristic ‘spikes’ that resemble a crown, hence the name.
Coronaviruses are circulating in the human and animal population all the time and are the cause of the common cold, for instance, that billions of people across the planet do battle with every year.
However, some are more serious, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The latest coronavirus is known as a ‘novel’ coronavirus because it has not previously been identified in humans. It has likely crossed the species boundary between animal and humans at some point, although the animal-to-human transmission has yet to be identified.
This new coronavirus — known as COVID-19 — is on the more serious end of the scale alongside SARS and MERS rather than being comparable to the common cold.
Common symptoms of coronavirus are very similar to the common cold at first, including:
These symptoms can go on to develop into shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. This is the limit of the symptoms most people will suffer, with the likelihood being recovery thereafter.
However, in more severe cases — typically found among the elderly, young children, pregnant women, the immunocompromised, those with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes, and other vulnerable groups — coronavirus can lead to pneumonia, respiratory, kidney and multiple organ failure, and even death.
It is estimated that around 10% of the population will require hospitalisation as a result of contracting the virus.
There could be between 2 and 14 days between becoming infected and exhibiting symptoms; during this period people may be contagious without realising they have COVID-19.
There is currently no specific cure or treatment for coronavirus. Antibiotics do not treat coronavirus because the disease is viral, not bacterial.
Nor is there a coronavirus vaccine, although the UK last month provided £20 million towards vaccine research.
Supportive treatment to relieve symptoms in a secure, quarantined hospital setting is recommended for those who develop the new human coronavirus and develop severe symptoms. This is to prevent further spread of the virus and to allow doctors and specialists to monitor your condition and intervene should it continue to progress unfavourably.
Outside the UK, countries are taking sweeping measures to limit the spread of the disease, with total lockdown of populations in some countries and borders closing to non-citizens.
In the UK the advice from the government, the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care centres around:
Face masks are helpful for those with the virus to avoid them spreading it further, but are not believed to be particularly effective to avoid contracting the disease.
If you suspect you may have the coronavirus, the NHS and the government maintains that the best course of action is to avoid GP surgeries, hospitals and pharmacies wherever possible.
New advice as of March 17th 2020 includes going into self-isolation for 14 days if you develop symptoms including a fever or a persistent cough. This should include you and any immediate family members in the same household. Self-isolation involves:
If your condition worsens, you may need to be admitted to hospital for supportive treatment.
The latest advice involves ceasing non-essential contact with other people, such as visits to friends and relatives. Non-essential travel should also be avoided, as should crowded public spaces such as pubs, clubs and restaurants. Working from home where possible is advised.
Note that the situation is changing and evolving rapidly and the information this page was based on was correct as of March 17th 2020.