In a press release in April, Manulife has announced that they are going to offer life insurance to HIV positive applicants, becoming the first insurance company in Canada to do so. It will offer up to $2 million of coverage for applicants aged 30-65 who have tested positive to the human immunodeficiency virus. The new policy means that HIV will be treated like any other chronic condition, such as diabetes and not a fatal illness leading to AIDS that it was perceived as decades ago. This is only possible through new research and studies showing the mortality rate of those living with HIV are similar to people with other chronic conditions.
Of course, this does not mean that everybody living with HIV will automatically qualify for life insurance coverage, as conditions need to be satisfied before applicants can qualify. For example, applicants should not show viral resistance to treatment and be compliant with antiretroviral therapy for at least 5 consecutive years. They also should not have a history of substance abuse nor a history of coronary artery disease, diabetes or cancer.
The rating applied, which is the additional premium for less healthy than average individuals, will depend on a variety of factors. These include age, sex and smoking status, and will be higher at younger ages. Underwriting will also include a paramedical exam with vitals, blood and urine samples being a minimum requirement, and also ordering an APS. Only after a thorough review of the test results and conditions will an underwriting decision be made.
Our take: This is a step in the right direction for the entire industry, as new data emerges on the longevity of people living with HIV that will allow insurance companies to assess risks more accurately. We hope more insurance companies follow Manulife’s lead, and make life insurance accessible to a wider population of people.