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BLOG 03/13/2020

Coronavirus and life insurance: What should you know?


The rapid spread of COVID-19 – short for coronavirus disease 2019 – has set off alarm bells around the world. In the first two weeks of March, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold. As of mid-March, there are more than 118,000 reported cases in 114 countries, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) this week to officially declare it a pandemic.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is advising people to be prepared for disruptions, including increased travel restrictions, businesses closing their offices, employees working remotely, schools suspending classes, and large gatherings of every kind being cancelled.

As people struggle to sort through the daily news alerts, huge headlines, and social media frenzy surrounding coronavirus, many have questions about how to protect themselves and their families. Nearly 4,300 people have died so far from the virus, and that number is expected to climb in the days and weeks ahead. So how will that impact life insurance? If you’re thinking about coverage to protect your family in the wake of the outbreak, here’s what to know.

What should I do to keep my family safe during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Amid all the dire warnings and predictions, there are some reassuring facts about coronavirus: We know what it is and how to test for it. For most people, the immediate risk of exposure to the virus is thought to be low and, in most cases, the symptoms are mild. According to a study of 45,000 confirmed cases in China, where the virus originated, 81% of cases caused only minor illness, 14% had severe symptoms, and just 5% were considered critical. Children seem barely affected, with just 3% of cases involving people under the age of 20.

However, early information also shows that some groups are more at risk of experiencing severe illness from the virus, including older adults and people with pre-existing health conditions, especially heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.

So what’s the best way to keep yourself and your family healthy? The CDC has a number of practical suggestions.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you’re sick, unless you need medical care.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Wear a face mask if you’re sick (otherwise you don’t need one).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Follow public health advice about school closures and avoiding crowds and group gatherings.

Travel, as you might expect, is more involved these days as well. On March 11, the U.S. announced a travel ban to and from Europe, along with continuing restrictions on travel to China and other parts of Asia. The CDC currently recommends avoiding all unnecessary travel. If you must travel, follow the previously mentioned guidelines. Be sure to carry travel-size hand sanitizer and have extra disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces you come into contact with. You should also prepare for the possibility that you could be away from home for an extended period in the event you become ill or wind up quarantined.

Is now a good time to buy life insurance?

If coronavirus has you thinking about life insurance, here’s what you need to know.

  • Buy sooner rather than later: In general, it’s always better to not wait to buy. That way, you can qualify for a lower rate and lock it in. If you wait, there’s always a chance you could develop a serious illness (like coronavirus) that could prevent you from getting coverage. As long as you’re healthy, you’re likely to qualify for a lower-cost policy.
  • New travel restrictions: As part of their screening process, insurance carriers are now looking closely at countries like Italy and China, where the coronavirus outbreak has been severe. The carrier will likely question you about recent travel and, if you’ve been to a country that was hard hit, you may need to wait to apply for coverage.
  • Your medical exam could be delayed: If you apply for a policy that requires a medical exam, you need to be aware that companies are now taking extra precautions to keep their examiners safe. You’ll be asked if you’ve had signs of fever, respiratory distress, or made a recent trip to China, Italy, or another severely affected country. If the examiner determines you’re at risk for coronavirus, your exam could be delayed for 14 days to ensure you don’t have it. The bottom line is the process takes a little longer these days, which is why it’s smart to start now.

What if I want to buy life insurance more quickly during the coronavirus outbreak?

If you have an upcoming trip or just want the peace of mind from a policy sooner, talk to an insurance agent about your options. eFinancial can help you compare coverage and rates to find the right fit for you, including:

  • Simplified issue life insurance: This type of life insurance can help you fast-track the process, since it doesn’t require a medical exam and may not require you to answer health questions. You could get covered in a just a few hours, instead of days or weeks.
  • Guaranteed issue life insurance: This type of insurance guarantees coverage regardless of your medical history. There’s no medical exam required and you won’t have to answer questions about your health, so approvals are fast and easy.
  • Final expense life insurance: Like simplified issue and guaranteed life insurance, final expense insurance has the benefit of quick approval times. Coverage is available even if you have a pre-existing condition, with no medical exam required.

 

Does my current life insurance policy cover coronavirus?

While it’s unlikely that most people will develop serious complications from coronavirus, you can count on life insurance to protect your family in a worst-case scenario. As long as your life insurance policy is active, coronavirus and other illnesses are typically covered. Keep in mind that some other plans, like accidental death benefit coverage, only cover you in case of an accident. Your insurance company can walk you through the specifics of your policy.

We’re here for you

Life insurance is designed to provide financial protection for your family, giving you peace of mind that lasts long after the coronavirus outbreak is over. With life insurance options from more than 20 top-rated companies, eFinancial is here to help you protect what matters. To find the policy that’s right for you, start your quote online or give one of our agents a call.

 

At eFinancial, our goal is to make life insurance simple, affordable, and understandable for everyday families. This content is intended for educational purposes only. Each post is carefully fact-checked, reviewed and updated regularly to ensure the information is as relevant as possible.