Through this pandemic, the majority of the population are scrambling for the chance to be screened for coronavirus. However research shows that healthworkers, a group most at risk of infection, are avoiding getting tested if they display symptoms. This is amidst fears that the results could negatively impact their applications for life insurance and income protection.
The British Medical Association (BMA) warned that those working in healthcare shouldn’t feel disadvantaged by positive antibody test results. BMA said that some insurers don’t yet distinguish between antibody and antigen testing; this could result in some insurance applications being deferred.
So, What Is The Difference?
- Antibody test – indicates whether someone has already had coronavirus and recovered from it.
- Antigen test – indicates whether someone is currently infected with the virus.
And Is Deferred The Same As ‘Refused’?
Insurance companies are insisting that those people are symptom-free and back at work for 1 to 3 months. They will consider an application for approval:
- after one month if the infection has been mild
- up to 3 months after if you have been admitted to hospital or had any complications.
In other words, the application is on hold until the insurance company can be sure you are fully recovered; rather than refused point blank.
What Has Been The Effect On Those Who Work In Healthcare?
Many of those who work within the NHS and private medical sectors are reviewing their arrangements for:
- life insurance
- income protection
They are aware of the impact that this pandemic is having on the healthcare profession.
When the BMA began to hear reports of doctors having trouble applying for such policies, they investigated further. Unfair treatment of medical professionals by insurers was unintentional; some of the questions asked by insurance companies were leading to problems for healthcare workers.
This is largely because they are more likely to come into contact with those infected with COVID-19. Which means they are more likely to undergo antigen or antibody testing; it is this ‘high risk’ that makes them less insurable.
What’s Being Done About It?
The BMA is working with the Association of British Insurers to ensure that healthcare workers are considered fairly. This is to ensure they are not discouraged from having the antigen test if they begin to display symptoms.
What Has Been The Response From The Association Of British Insurers?
A spokesperson for the association, which represents over 200 insurance companies has said:
“Healthcare workers will be treated the same as those in any other line of work; when applying for life insurance or income protection. The focus will be on the applicant’s overall health and the severity of their symptoms; as well as whether they have fully recovered and are back at work.”
What About The Life Assurance Scheme The Government Announced For NHS Workers?
This scheme doesn’t offer any long-term financial support like life insurance or income protection. However it does cover health and social care workers performing vital work on the frontline; who are therefore at increased risk, who die as a results of COVID-19
This scheme requires no monthly payments; a tax-free lump sum of £60,000 will be paid in the event of your death.
Who Is Eligible?
- Those employed by the NHS
- Those who work for organisations that support the delivery of NHS services
- Staff who work on an NHS contract, such as dental services
- Full or part time NHS staff
- Agency workers and locums
- Those who are retired but have returned to NHS employment
- Students who have taken up paid frontline roles
And To Claim?
- Main cause of death was coronavirus.
- The individual could not avoid the risk of contracting the virus due to the nature and location of their work.
- The disease was contracted in the course of them doing their job.
Of course, this is no replacement for a life insurance policy, particularly if you have a mortgage and dependents. This scheme is more of an ‘added extra’ laid on by the government rather than an alternative.
If you are a health worker and are concerned that you might:
- Have trouble taking out life insurance
- Your Income Protection insurance may be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
I would recommend seeking the advice of an independent financial advisor. More often than not their advice is free (ours is!). Because they work closely with insurance companies they’ll be able to help you find the best cover for your need; so you can get back on with the superhero stuff!