In light of World Aids Day, Justmoney is looking at whether or not insurance companies offer life cover to people suffering from HIV.
Hollard Life noted that a person who begins antiretroviral (ARV) medication early after contracting HIV are expected to have a normal life span.
“With so many positive developments in the treatment and management of the disease, the reality is that being HIV+ no longer means you won’t be able to get life insurance, especially if you’re serious about managing your health and treatment. Hollard Life was the first to provide life, critical illness and disability cover for HIV+ clients in 1999,” stated Hollard Life.
The availability of life cover
Hayley Taylor, managing underwriter at Hollard Life, pointed out: “With 16 years of experience behind us, our data proves that HIV+ people are living longer, healthier lives than scientists ever imagined possible back in the 1980s. The reality is that the insurance industry has lagged in providing products informed by medical developments to stay relevant with modern health and lifestyle trends. Most other insurers only started to offer cover to people living with HIV in the last two to three years.”
AllLife is an insurance company that offers whole life cover to people living with HIV. “We can provide people with quotes in real time over the phone and can incept policies on the same day. We also help people manage their health, reminding them what they should be doing to stay healthy and helping them live long lives. We have tens of thousands of HIV positive clients, with billions of Rands of sums assured. The largest policy we have provided, to date, to an individual living with HIV is R 12 million,” revealed Michael Blain, managing director of AllLife South Africa.
It is important to note that any life product that was sold after 2010 does not require a person to inform their insurance provider if they contract HIV after the policy has been taken out.
According to AllLife, the cover that it offers HIV+ clients is similar to the cover provided to HIV negative clients, however, there is “an associated requirement to try and treat the disease appropriately,” explained Blain.
Besides this, the standard terms and conditions and exclusions from cover exist. Blain elaborated: “As with all life insurance policies you need to obey the terms and conditions including, but not limited to, you need to pay premiums, not lie on the application and there are specific exclusions for related to dangerous activities (skydiving etc.) – other than these industry standard exclusions, if AllLife clients die (from any cause) their cover amount is paid to their beneficiaries.”
If you have developed AIDs, AllLife revealed that you are not eligible for cover. This is when your CD4+ count (a blood test that determines how well your immune system is working) is below 200 (the normal range is between 500 and 1 200) or if you have an AIDS defining illness.
However, Blain noted: “Many individuals go on ART (ARV therapy/treatment), have their CD4+ count increase above 200 and then take out life cover with AllLife. After clients have life cover, they are covered if they then get AIDS.”
In a report released by Africa Check, they confirmed that South Africa has the world’s largest ARV therapy programme.
“Since the country’s national antiretroviral therapy programme was rolled out in 2004 life expectancy has risen by nearly ten years – from 53,4 in 2004 to 62.5 in 2015 – and the antiretroviral therapy programme is partly credited for that,” revealed Africa Check.
According to the latest statistics released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) there were 6.2 million people living with HIV in 2015, and about half of that (3.1 million people) where on ARV therapy at the end of March 2015.
However, Amir Shroufi, deputy medical coordinator for Doctors Without Boarders in South Africa pointed out that South Africa does not have a single data system to record all patients on treatment, in addition, the current system does not factor in people who stop taking treatment or die.
As a result, the estimates of how many people are receiving treatment are probably an overestimate, according to Shroufi. However, he acknowledged that it is difficult to say how much of an overestimate it is.
However, even though it is not possible to provide the exact number of people receiving treatment, Africa Check noted that South Africa undoubtedly has the world’s largest ARV therapy programme.
Tips for people with HIV applying for life cover
Regardless of who you are applying for life cover through, Hollard Life highlighted that there are certain points that you should be aware of. These are:
- Insurance companies will want to be sure that you comply with your ARV programme.
- “Always check that the cover offered is for your entire lifetime. Some insurers may only provide cover for a fixed period, which means you will need to re-apply for cover after the period is up. You might then have to pay more because you’ll be older or you could end up being declined if your health has deteriorated,” stated Hollard Life.
- Check whether you have to provide proof of ongoing compliance with a treatment programme, and whether this is at your cost.
Furthermore, Hollard Life emphasised that it is important to involve a financial planner when dealing with the financial planning aspects of an existing health condition. “An advisor has the knowledge of different insurers to compare so that you get the best possible cover, at the right price, ensuring that you and your family are taken care of through all of life’s ups and downs,” emphasised Hollard Life.