Why a severe case of COVID can affect your insurance, even decades from now

Experts fear that Australians infected with COVID may one day be locked out or punished when seeking life insurance, as scientists continue to uncover the long-term effects of the virus.

Life insurance companies can already use so-called carve-outs for those with pre-existing conditions, which means the customer would not be protected if the specific health problem one day prevents them from being able to work.

Used in COVID-19 patients, especially those living with long-term effects, it may make them unsuitable for life insurance claims arising from a COVID infection decades earlier.

Such exclusions, if they eventually occur, are unlikely to apply to those with existing life insurance unless they make changes or move to a new insurance company.

To Omicron and beyond

Jane Tiller of Monash University’s Public Health Genomics Program said that when an insurance company found out that a prospective client had COVID in their youth, it could count on their amount – even decades into the future.

“Because of the reports of long-term effects of COVID that we are seeing coming through, there may be risks in people getting life insurance,” she said.

Woman with dark hair smiling
Jane Tiller says insurance companies can use evidence to support differential risk of discrimination.(Delivered: Jane Tiller)

Ms Tiller said there may also be risks if research eventually finds that some variants of COVID are more harmful than others.

“If it becomes possible to find out what varieties you had, then it is possible that they could try to distinguish between them,” she said.

“I’m worried that we might end up with a big gap between people who, without their own fault, without bad life choices, have been exposed to a serious pandemic virus.”

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