10 Questions: Buying Life Insurance During COVID-19 Pandemic:

Jerry C. Thomas, CFP®Life Insurance Planning, Underwriting (Life Ins.)

By now, we are all be aware of the COVID-19 pandemic. You’re most likely sheltering-in-place, working from home, and trying to stay sane! You may also be worried because you put buying that life insurance policy on hold. Now you may be trying to figure out how to get a policy ASAP!  Don’t worry, here are the answers to some of the questions you might have.  

1. Can I buy life insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, life insurance carriers are still offering policies, even if you live in a high-risk region of the U.S. There are a couple things to consider….

READ: The Definitive Guide to Life insurance Planning

2. Can I buy life insurance without an exam?

There are four different life insurance underwriting options that do not require a physical exam. This is important since there is a shortage or nurses available to conduct exams. Many of the nurses typically available are either in self-quarantine, shelter-in-place, or working in hospitals. Due to the shortage of nurses available to conduct the exams, these options are taking longer.  

Guaranteed-Issued Life Insurance

Guaranteed-issued life insurance does not involve any underwriting, therefore, making it the most expensive option. So, unless you are at risk of being completely un-insurable we’ll move forward with explaining the other options.

Simplified-Issued Life Insurance

To obtain a simplified issue life insurance policy you will not be required to complete a medical exam. However, you won’t be able to obtain a preferred health discount.

The maximum death benefit amount for a policy is $350,000 of life insurance coverage. The maximum age to obtain a policy is between 60-65 years old.

Simplified-Issued Life Insurance Companies:

  • Fidelity Life
  • Mutual of Omaha

No-Exam Life Insurance

In contrast from simplified-issued life insurance, no-exam life insurance allows the insured to obtain preferred health discounts without completing an exam. The insurance company will conduct a background check and pull medical information to make a decision.

The disadvantage, however, is that the maximum amount of coverage you can obtain is only $500,000. The maximum age to obtain a policy is between 60-65 years old.

No-Exam Life Insurance Companies:

  • Assurity
  • SBLI
  • Sagicor

Accelerated Underwriting Life Insurance

This type of life insurance allows an applicant to obtain a policy without an exam, while still being able to obtain preferred health discounts.

However, an exam may be required, based on the information found in the background check. Some insurance carriers will allow up to $3,000,000 of coverage without an exam. The maximum age to issue a policy is age 60.

Life Insurance Carriers with Accelerated Underwriting:

  • Allianz
  • American National
  • Banner Life (Legal & General)
  • Global Atlantic
  • John Hancock
  • Legal & General
  • Lincoln Financial
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • Nationwide
  • North American
  • Pacific Life
  • Principal Financial
  • Protective Life
  • Prudential
  • Securian

READ: Compare Different Accelerated Underwriting Life Insurance Options

3. What is the difference between simplified-issued life insurance vs. no-exam life insurance?

Simplified-issued life insurance will not offer discounted rates. In contrast, no-exam life insurance will offer discounted rates while still not requiring an exam.

4. Have any life insurance companies stopped selling life insurance in the U.S. due to COVID-19?

No, life insurance companies are still operating in the United States and continue to write new policies. Furthermore, there is no indication that life insurance companies are planning to limit issuing policies.

5. Are life insurance companies changing the products they have available?

Yes, this is not due to COVID-19, it is actually due to the reduced interest rate environment. The reduced interest rates have impacted profitability.

6. What life insurance companies have made changes?

Many, some are good, some are bad. Many life insurance carriers are actually making it easier to obtain a policy without an exam by increasing the coverage limit from $1 Million all the way to $3 Million.

Some changes in the works that have not been announced is product postponements.

  • Postponing Guaranteed Universal Life Sales (GUL)
  • Postponing 30-Year Term Sales

Here is a list of Good Changes

  • Prudential – Increased Accelerated Underwriting limit to $3 Million of Coverage
  • Mutual of Omaha – Increased Accelerated Underwriting limit to $2 Million of Coverage
  • North American – Increased Premium Limits for IUL Products

Here is a list of Bad Changes

  • Penn Mutual – Postponing Apps over age 70
  • John Hancock – Postponing Apps over age 80
  • Pacific Life – Limiting Coverage for Individuals age 71 or older

Not Bad, Just Changes:

  • All Carriers – Require a signed statement of good health when a policy is issued. ()

To keep updated check Brokers’ Service Marketing Group Critical Information Center.

7. Are life insurance companies making it difficult to obtain a policy, if you live in a high-risk city?

John Hopkins COVID-19 Heat Map

No, life insurance carriers have not placed any restrictions based on where you live. Although, if you decide to obtain coverage and it requires an exam, you may be on a waiting list for 6 weeks or more.

8. Are life insurance companies placing restrictions on obtaining a policy due to COVID-19?

Yes. If you currently feel symptoms, then carriers will not allow coverage until you have a negative test result and/or have recovered from your illness.

9. What if I test positive for COVID-19, can I still purchase a life insurance policy?

Not immediately. If you test positive, then the life insurance company will wait 1-3 months until after you recover before accepting an application.  

10. What should I do next?

If you are looking for more information on life insurance planning read our Definitive Guide to Life Insurance Planning.

If you are looking to buy:

I would recommend working with a knowledgeable expert as it can make obtaining a policy much easier.

If you are an insurance professional:

Work with a knowledgeable Brokerage General Agency. They’ll know which carriers are processing business efficiently and they’ll know changes coming down the pipeline so you can keep your clients updated.

Conclusion

We hope that this helps answer some of the most pressing concerns regarding life insurance planning during this global pandemic.Things are changing and moving quickly. If you are contemplating adding coverage, we recommend applying sooner than later. There is no cost to submit the application, and in the event life insurance carriers stop accepting applications, then yours will already have been received. We have the experience and knowledge to help guide you through the process. Reach out with any questions!