Where We Were Yesterday

Yesterday I broke ground on several subjects that are on the minds of many about life insurance. I talked about the solid ground that life insurance companies are on financially and I talked about the challenges and solutions they, and you, are facing when it comes to buying new life insurance. I shared what I knew and what I suspected. I knew that life insurance companies were working as I spoke to bring clarity to all aspects of the life insurance business, from how this unprecedented time affects those that already have life insurance and those who might want to acquire it.

I ended yesterday by suggesting this experience we are all going through may be a wake up call, or an ah ha moment, for those who have been on the fence about whether life insurance is a prudent discussion to have. Let me reiterate that if you have life insurance in force, your contract with that company has not been affected. It is good today and will be be solid as long as you keep it in force. I hope today’s new information directly from insurance companies will help.

Life Insurance Changes To Underwriting Questions

The information I am going to share has come from the first four US life insurance companies to share changes they have made to the questions and practices involved in their underwriting guidelines. I believe that you will find these changes to be prudent and reasonable and not just reactionary. The changes fall into three categories, foreign travel, treatment of those who have had COVID-19 or are quarantined because of contact with it, and an additional requirement at the time the policy goes in force. I’m going to do this by giving you a synopsis of what the four companies have said. So let’s lay it out.

Foreign Travel

No need to go to great lengths to explain why this might be an underwriting concern, so here is what the companies are saying. Prior to this, past foreign travel was not a question with most companies.

A statement on foreign travel indicating whether or not each proposed insured or any household member has within the past 30 days traveled or resided outside of the U.S. or has traveled by cruise ship. If travel has occurred, we would also expect the statement to indicate where they traveled and when they returned. At present, we will postpone consideration of all submissions on applicants who have planned future travel outside of the U.S.

Normally on “Yes” answers require an explanation. What they are asking is, even if you answer “no” to foreign travel you should reference that question in the remarks section and make a statement concerning the items in this wording. Specifically, have you or any household member traveled outside the US within the past 30 days. I am expecting this may be expanded to travel to hot spots within the US, but they aren’t requiring that at this point. Depending on when travel occurred there may be up to a 30 day waiting period before an application will be accepted.

Underwriting Contact With COVID-19 Individuals

Must be noted on the application if a proposed insured or someone in the same household has come into close contact with anyone known to the insured to have tested positive for COVID-19.

Since contact with someone with a disease is not a question on life insurance applications your agent will ask this question and note the answer in the remarks section.

Underwriting Those Who Have Recovered From COVID-19

  • If an applicant has symptoms matching COVID-19, a postponement for evaluation until 4 weeks after full recovery may be warranted.
  • If an applicant has been tested and deemed positive for COVID-19 and has experienced:
    • Mild symptoms with no hospitalization – postponement may be required until confirmation is received 4 weeks post recovery by a healthcare provider.
    • Moderate to severe symptoms and/or hospitalization was required – postponement will occur until current evidence of good health by a medical practitioner (as shown in medical records) is received more than 4 weeks post recovery.

Putting Your New Life Insurance Policy In Force

There isn’t a big change here. In the past if the underwriting of your application took more than a month or if you delayed more than a month putting the policy in force once approved, companies required a statement of good health. Essentially they wanted to know, because things had taken a while for whatever reason, if you health had changed or if you had seen a doctor since the application started.Now

  • A Good Health Statement will be required with all new or pending applications. In some cases applications or putting policies in force may be delayed for up to 30 days based on the answers.

Life Insurance Application Examinations

With the exception of “accelerated underwriting” applications companies will still require an examination. I received this from Exam One, the most widely used life insurance exam company.

“We have rigorous safety procedures in place across our company to protect Quest and ExamOne employees on the front line from coming in contact with a wide range of infectious diseases.

Our collection network will proceed with life insurance examinations, using the same protocol as they do today which is handling every specimen with standard biohazard safety precautions as well as follow additional precautions as outlined below.

  • ExamOne does not currently collect or transport specimens from persons under investigation for COVID-19 or with confirmed COVID-19 at our Patient Service Centers or mobile phlebotomy collection network.
  • We have modified our scheduling, reminder and appointment confirmation scripts to include the following questions:
    • In the last 14 days have you exhibited signs of fever or respiratory distress, or had close contact with someone who has?
    • In the last 14 days have you traveled to any Restricted Travel Area or taken a cruise, or had close contact with an individual who has?
  • If a consumer answers yes to either question, he or she is directed to delay scheduling the appointment for 14 days from diagnosis, contact or date of travel, and advised to contact their insurance company.”

How We Can Help!

Hinerman Group is staying in constant touch with life insurance and exam companies for any updates. We highly recommend applying for life insurance that can be done through an “accelerated underwriting” or “instant issue” process. Accelerated underwriting requires a phone interview and in most cases no exam. Instant issue applications are done without an interview or exam. These may not work for cases that are complicated with health issues, but Hinerman Group will handle those cases as professionally and expeditiously as we always have. If you have questions please call, text or email. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk. And please, be safe.