Life Insurance and COVID-19: Vaccines, Coverage and Claims

Life insurance covers deaths from COVID-19, whether or not you or your loved ones have had the vaccine.
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Written by Georgia Rose
Lead Writer
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Lead Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
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Co-written by Renee Deveney
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Nerdy takeaways
  • You likely won’t be denied life insurance simply because you’ve had COVID-19.

  • The disease’s long-term effects can play a role in whether you qualify for a new policy.

  • The COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t impact eligibility or the death benefit payout if you die with or without having the vaccine.

As COVID-19 has become a part of our daily lives, you may be wondering if and how the disease can influence your life insurance coverage. The long-term health effects of COVID-19 may have an impact on life insurance, but the vaccine does not. You are likely still eligible for coverage even if you’ve had COVID-19 and the death benefit should be paid out regardless of vaccination status or cause of death.

Can I get life insurance if I’ve had COVID-19?

The short answer is yes. Some insurers have stated that they are treating COVID-19 like any other illness. Most people who have recovered from COVID-19 without complications are eligible for life insurance with no issue. However, insurers use your current and past health records to determine eligibility and rates. So, any previous medical condition, including long-term complications you may have from COVID-19, can affect the cost and availability of coverage. Even if an insurer doesn't ask you about COVID-19 specifically, you'll need to provide details about any related conditions like heart conditions, blood clots or neurological symptoms.

If you don’t want your health taken into account when buying coverage, you can apply for guaranteed issue life insurance, which doesn't require any information about your health. But this type of life insurance comes with higher rates and lower coverage amounts.

If you currently have symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive for it, you likely won’t be able to get life insurance until after you’ve recovered. Once you’re better, you can apply for a policy.

Can I get life insurance if I have long COVID?

Like other medical conditions, complications from long COVID may impact your eligibility and rates for life insurance. Long COVID can interfere with daily life and cause issues like brain fog, fatigue and shortness of breath, but it can also worsen or ignite other chronic conditions such as diabetes, blood clots and heart conditions.

During the life insurance underwriting process, you’ll typically complete a detailed questionnaire and medical exam to evaluate your overall health. Insurers base policies and premiums on several factors, including your medical history and current health.

Because the effects of long COVID are still new, each insurance company may handle it differently. If you have ongoing health impacts related to COVID-19, it’s a good idea to work with an experienced life insurance agent or broker who can help identify insurers and coverage to meet your needs and decrease your chances of being denied.

Life insurance and the COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 vaccine doesn't affect an insurer’s decision to pay out claims. In addition, the vaccine typically isn't used to determine your eligibility for coverage. It may open up coverage for those with underlying health conditions, as the vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reduces the risk of dying from COVID-19.

🤓Nerdy Tip

During the pandemic, misinformation circulated online stating that life insurance claims would be denied for people who had received a COVID-19 vaccine. The American Counsel of Life Insurers and state insurance departments across the country have reassured customers that these reports are false. Your vaccination status does not impact whether or not your beneficiaries will receive the death benefit.

Does life insurance cover deaths from COVID-19?

In almost all cases, life insurance covers COVID-19 and beneficiaries should receive the life insurance death benefit without any issue. However, a life insurance claim may be denied for other reasons worth noting:

  • Inaccurate or incomplete application. Claims can be denied if you didn't disclose certain information on your application, such as high-risk travel plans, or your true weight or income. This also includes lying about any COVID-related illnesses if asked. When filling out an application, take your time, be truthful and ask questions. If you die within the first two years of coverage, an insurer generally examines the claim and initial application more thoroughly. Still, a company can refuse to pay a claim if false information is found on the application even after the two-year life insurance contestability period ends. 

  • Missed premium payments. If your policy lapses for nonpayment and you die, your beneficiary usually won’t receive a payout. When a premium payment is late, life insurance companies often offer a grace period, typically 30 days. Your coverage will continue as long as you pay the insurer during this time. In some cases, you can reinstate your policy if it lapses, but you may need to provide updated information on your health to do so.

  • Accidental death policies. Accidental death and dismemberment insurance, or AD&D, is designed to cover accidents. It doesn't pay out if you die of illness or disease. Sometimes AD&D coverage is added to a standard life insurance policy as a rider. In that case, the underlying traditional policy would still pay out for a death from COVID-19. 

How to file a life insurance claim after a COVID-related death

If a policyholder dies from COVID-19 or related conditions, the beneficiary will need to file a life insurance claim by following these steps:

  • Obtain multiple copies of the death certificate.

  • Contact the policyholder’s agent or the insurance company for claim paperwork.

  • Send in the required documents with a certified copy of the death certificate.

After submitting a claim, the beneficiary can generally decide whether to receive payments in a lump sum or installments.

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How to get the best life insurance rates if you’ve had COVID-19

Life insurance rates can vary dramatically depending on the type of coverage you buy and personal factors like your health, age and occupation. These types of life insurance may be good options for people who’ve had COVID-19:

  • Term life insurance offers coverage for a set amount of time, like 20 or 30 years, and usually provides the best value for most people. A medical exam is usually required for the best rates, so wait until after you’ve recovered from COVID-19 to apply.

  • Whole life insurance is usually a permanent policy that lasts your entire life and builds cash value, but comes with significantly higher premiums than term policies.

  • Guaranteed issue life insurance doesn’t require a medical exam, but typically has higher premiums. Consider a guaranteed issue policy if you are unable to get approval with a medical exam due to ongoing effects from COVID.

  • Simplified issue life insurance requires a straightforward questionnaire, which may be a good option for those with lasting COVID symptoms or related conditions. 

  • Group life insurance is often available through an employer and doesn’t typically require a medical exam or other personal or health-related information. 

Once you determine what type of life insurance is right for you and how much coverage you need, compare life insurance quotes from multiple companies to find your best rate. As a reminder, if you have long COVID, working with an agent or broker to compare companies and rates can help you find an insurer that is most likely to approve coverage based on your history and needs.

More about life insurance with pre-existing conditions

Whether you have complications from long COVID or other conditions, medical history can have an impact on life insurance premiums and qualifications. Learn more about how life insurance works for a variety of situations:

Frequently asked questions

You can apply for a guaranteed issue life insurance policy at any time, but to get the best rates on a medically underwritten policy, it’s best to wait until after you’ve recovered. These applications require an in-person medical exam, so you won’t be able to complete the process while you’re sick.

No. Whether or not you’ve had the COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t impact the payout of your death benefit or your eligibility for applying for a new life insurance policy.

In most cases, having had COVID-19 in the past won’t impact your eligibility for life insurance. However, if you’re experiencing long COVID or other medical complications, you may have to pay more for coverage or apply for a guaranteed issue policy if you don’t qualify for a fully underwritten policy.

Like many industries, life insurers saw a shift toward online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has continued to reshape how people find and purchase coverage. At the beginning of the pandemic, insurers saw a 4% year-over-year increase in applications in 2020, according to the MIB, a premier life insurance information database. Insurers also saw a 15.4% increase in death benefit payouts from 2019 to 2020, the largest increase in more than 100 years. While application rates have fluctuated in the years since the pandemic began, the five-year change shows an upward trend. Insurers saw a 4.4% increase in applications between 2019 and 2023.

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