As “social distancing” and “contactless” become a part of our day-to-day vocabulary, there have been a lot of questions when it comes to life insurance and the coronavirus. Can I even get life insurance right now? Can I get life insurance if I have the coronavirus? Will life insurance cover me if I die of COVID-19?
Life insurance can give you important peace of mind — particularly at a time like this — knowing that your family will be protected financially if something should happen to you. In addition, with whole life insurance, your policy will accumulate cash value over time. Since the cash value is guaranteed to grow and is unaffected by the market, it can become a stable source of funds that you can access at any time.
But there’s still a lot of confusion around life insurance right now. So to address some of the frequently asked questions, we sat down with Quentin Doll, Northwestern Mutual’s vice president of Life Insurance Products.
CAN I GET LIFE INSURANCE RIGHT NOW?
Absolutely. In many cases, you can go through the entire process remotely and depending on factors like your age and how much coverage you want, you may be approved for coverage in a day or two. Our financial advisors can meet with you over the phone or online. You’ll be able to fill out paperwork and other information, including a medical questionnaire, from the comfort of your home. At Northwestern Mutual, right now if you’re looking for a death benefit of less than $1 million, in nearly all cases the process can be done remotely.
In some instances — typically if you’re older than 50 or need a large amount of coverage — we will still need a complete in-person medical exam (which has been a standard part of getting life insurance for years). But even in these cases, we may have alternative ways to qualify you for coverage without requiring an in-person exam.
IF I DO NEED AN IN-PERSON EXAM, CAN I DO THAT LATER AND STILL GET COVERAGE?
Probably. In many cases, we can offer what we call classified or rated coverage, meaning that you’ll pay a little more for it until you can go through an in-person exam. Once you complete the in-person portion, assuming everything checks out OK, your rates will drop (usually retroactively).
WILL MY LIFE INSURANCE COVER ME IF I DIE OF COVID-19?
I can’t speak for all companies, but at Northwestern Mutual, we have already paid claims of people who have died of COVID, and we'll continue to do so.
CAN I GET LIFE INSURANCE IF I HAVE SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS?
You must be symptom-free for at least 30 days before we’ll start processing new insurance at Northwestern Mutual. But after that, as long as you have no other underlying health conditions, you’ll be able to go through the process.
CAN I GET LIFE INSURANCE IF I HAVE ANOTHER PRE-EXISTING CONDITION?
It depends. In some cases, you may be able to get insurance, but you might have to pay an additional amount for the same level of coverage. The coronavirus is on everyone’s minds right now, but there are any number of health issues, like cardiovascular disease or diabetes, that can make it difficult or impossible to get life insurance. Especially for older individuals applying for life insurance with particular underlying health conditions, it may be even more challenging to get coverage at this time.
That’s why it’s so important to get coverage sooner rather than later. It’s much easier (and less expensive) to get life insurance when you’re young and healthy. If you have a policy in place prior to having a health issue, your coverage will continue.
IF I HAVE PERMANENT OR WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE AND NEED MONEY DUE TO COVID-19, CAN I ACCESS MY CASH VALUE?
Yes. This is exactly the kind of thing the accumulated cash value within permanent life insurance is for. You can usually get funds in a day or two and repayment is flexible. However, it’s a good idea to talk to your financial advisor and discuss your options before accessing your funds.