Life insurance and HIV: a brief history


In the past, it was impossible to get life insurance for someone who had tested positive for HIV, as insurers simply deemed the risk of a policyholder dying too high. There was also a lack of data regarding reaction to medication and mortality rates, some of the factors insurers base their premiums on.

This stance by the insurance industry meant not only did people with HIV find it impossible to get life insurance, but people who were at risk of HIV were reluctant to have an HIV test in case it meant they would be turned down for life cover.

In 2005, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) set up the ABI Expert Working Group on HIV and Insurance to tackle these issues. The group, which was composed of clinicians, HIV interest groups and insurers, worked to ensure that the insurance industry treated the subject of HIV risk with sensitivity and fairness. It also looked at HIV statistics and claims data and researched ways that life insurance could be offered to people with HIV.1,2

Since then treatment and knowledge of HIV has improved and so has the attitude of the insurance industry, albeit slowly.

The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) over the past few years has prolonged the lives of many people who are living with HIV. Meanwhile insurance companies, underwriters and intermediaries have worked together to design specialist life insurance policies for people who have tested HIV positive.


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