Life insurance shoppers should expect COVID-19 curve balls

by Leo Almazora24 Mar 2020

Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus crisis has cause drastic changes in people’s everyday life. And even after it passes, it’s likely to leave its mark on the life insurance industry — which means applicants must be prepared for certain changes.

In a recent report, Amy Danise, the insurance editor for Forbes Advisor, approached insiders from the U.S. life insurance space to ask what potential issues people should expect as they shop for policies during and in the wake of the pandemic scare.

One potential wrinkle, according to Chirag Pancholi, CEO and co-founder of mobile-first life insurance provider Jenny Life, should concern those returning from abroad. “[A]pplicants returning from any international travel in the last 30 days, will have their applications postponed,” he told Forbes.

That delay gives insurers much-needed time to get a better sense of the risk that they could be taking on with such cases.

When it comes to traditional life insurance, which requires a medical exam, many shoppers will likely encounter more probing questions. Mark Sayre, head of risk solutions at Haven Life, said that the COVID-19 public health emergency will lead to exams where applicants are proactively asked about fever, respiratory illnesses, and recent trips to other countries.

“Being under the weather can skew the results of the medical exam,” Sayre said, noting that underwriters would need an accurate depiction of one’s normal health condition to come up with proper insurance rate estimates.

Applicants should also expect to have to sign an “evidence of insurability form” just before they are issued a policy. The form provides insurers assurance that an individual’s state of health has not changed since their medical exam due to a heart attack, a stroke, or even the COVID-19 virus.

“It’s important to be honest and forthcoming about medical history, medical treatment and travel when applying for life insurance,” Sayre said, noting that payment of life insurance benefits could depend on the truthfulness of information submitted during the application.