Feeling a little blindsided right now. I tread very carefully when it comes to any dramatic change in underwriting and as I’ve outlined in numerous posts, just recently two companies approached me saying that they were willing to underwrite HIV positive up to $1mm of term or permanent (guaranteed UL) life insurance. After being assured numerous times that this was the real thing by underwriters and officers of the companies I went public. Yesterday, just as I was ready to step off into this with applications, the company that said they would offer term life insurance pulled back from that position.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that I still have access, up to $1mm, for permanent insurance. Because of my numerous conversations with the underwriters I will be tightening the criteria, with the primary change being that I will only present non smokers to the underwriters. My reason for this change is two fold. 1. Smoking is already an extremely expensive life insurance risk, usually doubling or tripling the cost of what insurance would cost for a comparable non smoker and 2. Smoking is a known cause of higher mortality and health issues in HIV positive. Read that, it is a major strike against you and for now I want to focus on those clients with the least strikes against them.

So, having blogged about something that ultimately turned out not to be true (term life insurance), I would like to apologize to those whose hopes I got up and have now let down. I feel bad because I have never offered advice in the forum that I couldn’t back up with underwriting success. Please forgive me. If, in the future, I post about term life insurance for HIV positive clients, know that I will have it to offer and it will be through a company and reinsurer that will not waffle.

So, let’s recap where things stand. At the time of application,

HIV+ diagnosis was made 3 or more years prior to application.

Client has received Anti-retroviral treatment consistently for 3 or more years.

Viral load is undetectable.

CD4 lymphocyte count is within normal range. Baseline CD4 and nadir will be requested.

Client has NO history of Hepatitis C.

Client has NO history of IV drug abuse.

NO history of AIDS defining illness.

Client is a non NON smoker


In addition to the above criteria, below is an example of an ideal scenario:

§ Client was diagnosed between the ages of 20-39.

§ Client has been HIV positive for 5 or more years, with consistent treatment documented. Serial blood work and medical surveillance is documented.

§ CD4 Count was HIGH at time of diagnosis. (Note: CD4 count between 200-500 is considered the intermediate phase; CD4 count less than or equal to 200 increases the risk for AIDS- related opportunistic infection/cancers). The CD4 nadir (lowest value) is predictive for long-term mortality.

§ Client’s viral load is low at time of diagnosis.

§ Routine blood work, including renal and liver function, is consistently normal.

§ Hepatitis B surface antigen is negative.

§ If HIV virus was contracted from unprotected sexual contact, client is currently practicing safe-sex and/or is in a monogamous relationship. (Client is not regularly treated for non-HIV sexually transmitted infections).

§ Client has no signs of early coronary artery or renal disease.

Bottom line. The lack of term life insurance is a set back, but I am confident it will return once the companies have more history with HIV underwriting and as more progress is made in treatment of HIV. Even with permanent insurance being the only product available at this time, the pricing and higher limits still make this far more attractive than anything available in the past (guaranteed issue life insurance). If you have questions or would like to look into the possibility further, please call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.