Life insurance with HIV is not as difficult to get as it was decades ago. New retroviral medications allow for a much longer life expectancy. However, life insurance companies have been slow to respond to these advancements.
Most life insurance companies who accept pre-existing conditions still decline HIV patients, except for a select few. The downside is the few companies who accept HIV patients for standard policies do not overlap with the few companies who allow medical marijuana use.
However, there are other options. Realistically speaking, most people with HIV will need to explore non-traditional means of life insurance. The same goes for AIDS patients.
The rest of this article covers the three companies who do offer standard policies for people with HIV. The last section explores other options.
Insurance companies change their underwriting guidelines all the time. One of the 12 cannabis-friendly life insurance companies may change their HIV/AIDS guidelines without notice. Give us a call at (888) 987-8447 for the most up to date information.
Since the companies who accept HIV positive applicants aren’t the same companies who accept medical marijuana at the time of writing, the best thing to do is call us to see exactly what your options are.
Does Medical Marijuana Affect Life Insurance Applications?
Insurance companies treat recreational and medical cannabis differently.
Insurance companies evaluate recreational cannabis based on how you consume it and how frequently. Most companies will ignore it if you smoke less than twice a week. More than that, you might be paying tobacco rates. Some companies will let you partake more often if you only use edibles.
Medical marijuana does not play into an underwriter’s decision at all. They concern themselves with your diagnoses. Most importantly, what is your prognosis and are you following your doctor’s orders?
Granted, these guidelines only apply to marijuana-friendly companies.
What About My Privacy?
Any use of cannabis (recreational or medical) falls under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Meaning that it’s private information. Your insurance agent is bound by law to protect your privacy, just like your doctor.
That means no one other than someone in the need-to-know gets access to that information. Need-to-know being the life insurance underwriter. Your boss, the authorities, and even your spouse get denied access to that information.
This allows you to be perfectly candid on applications. Remember, lying on your life insurance application leads to problems later on. The least of which is no life insurance at all for being a “moral hazard.”
How to Qualify for Life Insurance with HIV
Out of the 850 life insurance companies operating in the United States, three offer traditional life insurance with HIV. However, standard rates are not available. The best case scenario is a table rating.
Table ratings in the insurance industry term for charging an additional premium for an insurance policy. Each table is roughly 25% extra. Companies either use a lettering or numbering system. For example, an extra 25% would either be Table 1 or Table A. Table 2 or Table B would mean 50% extra.
The three companies willing to issue traditional life insurance with HIV are the following:
- Prudential Life Insurance
- American National
- John Hancock
All three companies will want to see a year of medical records between when you received your diagnosis and when you apply for life insurance. Some companies prefer to see closer to 5 years of medical records.
This time allows the underwriters to evaluate how well your body responds to treatment. It also tells the insurance company if you are following your doctor’s orders or not.
Prudential Life Insurance with HIV
The only policies available to someone with HIV are the 10-year or 15-year term policy. The face amout (death benefit) must be between $100,000 and $2,500,000.
The only way to get a permanent life insurance policy from Prudential in this situation is to get either the 10-year or 15-year term and then use the conversion feature at the end of the term. Make sure to read the fine print on the contract because there are some conditions.
Not every application will qualify. You must meet Prudential’s underwriting guidelines before they even look at the application.
The best case scenario is a Table H (200%) rating. They will issue higher ratings depending on what they see in your medical records.
Prudential’s Underwriting Requirements
First, you must be between age 30 and 60. You must also reside in the United States. Unfortunately, Hawaii and Vermont have state restrictions, so you can’t be a resident there.
You cannot have any of the following conditions:
- AIDS-defining condition
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Non-TB mycobacterial infections
You must have records showing you’ve been on antiretroviral treatment for at least 6 months. The diagnosis needs to have been at least a year ago. The big thing here is that you are following your doctor’s recommendations to the letter.
- 2+ acceptable CD4 counts and viral load results on current medication
- CD4 count and viral load records within 6 months of application
- Viral load is stable, undetectable, and less than 200 copies/ml
The CD4 count can fall into two categories, untreated and treated. Underwriters evaluate these separately.
If untreated, you can’t have any records of the CD4 count being less than 200. This includes the time of diagnosis. Your current CD4 count must be stable and greater than 500, with no doctor’s plan to initiate treatment.
If treated, a CD4 count of less than 200 is acceptable if you have been successfully treated for at least the past 5 years. Your current CD4 must have been at least 500 after you started treatment. Finally, your current CD4 count needs to be over 350 and stable.
American National Life Insurance with HIV
American National offers coverage between $250,000 and $1,000,000. You can get policies higher than $1,000,000 but talk with your agent about any additional restrictions.
The absolute best-case scenario for life insurance with HIV is a Table 4 rating. Most people will receive somewhere from a Table 6 to a Table 8 rating.
American National Underwriting Process
If you apply with American National, you’ll go through a two-stage underwriting process.
First, you must disclose your diagnosis on your application. You will also need to provide the date of diagnosis and up to 5 years of medical records. This should also include all treating physicians and medications ever prescribed.
Your medical records should contain full lab work including a drug screen and hepatitis panel.
After receiving all of this information, American National will check several databases including the prescriptions database and LRC score to confirm the information you provided.
After this initial review, the underwriters will need to confirm a second set of information.
- You have a stable and undetectable viral load
- Your CD4 count is less than 500
- Proof of excellent compliance with anti-retroviral therapy (ART) plus six months of follow up with your doctor
- No Hepatitis B or C
- No AIDS-defining condition in the last 5 years
- Zero evidence of any drug abuse
- No other underlying medical conditions that would normally merit a Table 4 rating or higher
If you do not meet all of these criteria, you will need to look at one of the other companies or check into a non-traditional form of life insurance.
John Hancock Life Insurance with HIV
John Hancock will offer both term and permanent life insurance policies to HIV patients. The death benefits can range anywhere from $250,000 to $2,000,000.
However, they will exclude some riders from the policies including:
- Long Term Care Rider
- Waiver of Premium Rider
- Accelerated Death Benefit Rider
Your rates (provided you meet the criteria) can fall anywhere from Table J to Table P (250% to 400% extra) depending on the following factors:
- Current age
- Date of HIV diagnosis
- Adherence and response to antiretroviral treatment
- Absence of immunosuppressant
- Absence of additional conditions like diabetes or coronary artery disease
John Hancock Underwriting Process
Anyone between age 30 and 65 can apply for a policy. The underwriter will want to see the following before considering a policy:
- 5+ years compliance with anti-retroviral therapy without any lapses or delays
- CD4 count of 350 cells / mm3 for the past two years
- Undetectable viral load for the past two years
- No Hepatitis B or C
The following list will disqualify an applicant with HIV:
- Recent HIV diagnosis
- Any AIDS-defining conditions
- Medical evidence of viral resistance to treatment
- Any history of intravenous drug use, alcohol abuse, or other substance abuse
- Coronary artery disease
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Any psychiatric conditions usually qualifying for ratings
- Low or decreasing BMI that would typically qualify for ratings
- Malignant tumors
In addition to the table rating for accepted applications, there is a flat fee of an additional $2 per thousand dollars of benefit. For example, if your benefit is $250,000 you would pay an extra $500.
What if I Don’t Qualify?
If you don’t meet the criteria for any of the companies above, or if you have been declined before, there are other options.
Work with your agent to explore group, simplified issue, or guaranteed issue options to see which would be the best fit for your situation and your family.
Group Life Insurance
Most employers who offer benefits will have a group life insurance policy if you choose to opt-in. Everyone is eligible for these, regardless of any health conditions. Talk to your HR person and get the information. If you want to compare it to an individual plan, you can take it to an agent who can translate any of the jargon for you.
The downside of group life insurance is that it isn’t portable. If you change jobs, you lose your life insurance.
Simplified Issue Life Insurance
Simplified issue is a type of no-exam policy. Even though there is no health exam, there are medical questions on the application.
Some life insurance companies will auto-decline HIV, some won’t. Although most will not accept the use of either medical or recreational marijuana. Again, underwriting guidelines change constantly so talk to your agent about current options.
Simplified issue life insurance costs more than traditional life insurance policies, and the death benefits are typically much lower. On the bright side, you can get both term and permanent policies.
Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance
Guaranteed issue life insurance policies serve as a last resort option for life insurance. Anyone who applies will qualify. The only restriction is age limit. Most policies will issue to anyone between 18 and 85, sometimes older.
Applications don’t contain health questions. Plus, there is no medical exam. If you are under 65 years of age, there is one company that will provide $50,000 of life insurance – no questions asked.
With small benefits typically limited to $25,000, most people use this type of policy to cover final expenses. They also use a system called “graded death benefits” to prevent enormous losses of money.
Graded death benefits mean that if you pass away within the first few years of owning the policy, your beneficiaries won’t receive 100% of the death benefits. Usually, the tiers follow the following system:
- 1st year – 110% of premiums paid
- 2nd year – 110% of premiums paid
- 3rd year – 100% of the death benefits
Dollar for dollar, this is the most expensive type of life insurance you can buy. Mostly because it doesn’t take health into account whatsoever.
Your medical records for the past five years will determine whether or not you will qualify for traditional life insurance.
How MJ Life Insurance Can Help
We keep tabs on where life insurance companies stand on cannabis. It’s our goal to find the right company for every lifestyle and health situation. In cases like this where coverage options for HIV and medical marijuana don’t overlap, we still go to bat for our clients trying to see if there is any wiggle room in the underwriting guidelines.
If there is any way we can help, give us a call at (888) 987-8447.