For the Unvaccinated Life Insurance costs could go up
Moving forward in New Zealand, unvaccinated people could pay more for life and health insurance in the future.
For those who already have life and health insurance – they won’t be affected as the insurers cannot go back retrospectively and ask these questions and alter insurance premiums. This is why people take out insurance to protect for the unexpected in the future – and COVID is one of these unexpected events.
We can only look overseas for an indication of what might happen in New Zealand. In South Africa a country where insurers have experienced significant claims for COVID related deaths and hospitalisation’s – they are now requiring new applicants to disclose their vaccination status.
So whilst people have the freedom of choice as to whether to have a vaccine or not – it may have financial implications in the future when it comes to getting insurance.
For those who have existing health conditions and remain unvaccinated the insurers were charging more for their covers or excluding claims related to COVID.
This is not uncommon in the life insurance industry for example if someone had moles removed which were pre cancerous and put in an application for insurance an insurer can often put on a financial loading or exclude skin cancer in a trauma benefit.
The key difference here is the insured has the option of getting vaccinated or not so no doubt will cause contention in the future.
With COVID looking likely to becoming endemic in New Zealand insurers that were backed by international reinsurers would ultimately start to ask people about their vaccination status, she said.
So it is more a case of when this hits New Zealand, based on experiences overseas it won’t be far away.
Naomi Ballentyne of Partners Life said “From an insurers point of view if someone is unvaccinated they are exposing themselves to COVID risk, which we have not yet priced, or assumed in our underwriting.”
Most infections, hospitalisation’s, and deaths were people who had not been fully vaccinated, she said.
There were growing signs that unvaccinated people would face costs not faced by fully-vaccinated people, which National leader Judith Collins said would result in a two class society of the vaccinated an unvaccinated.
At this stage no insurer in New Zealand has asked new applicants about their vaccination status. And with the new drug treatments for COVID sick patients involving on a daily basis it may alter overseas insurers decisions on asking about vaccination status.
Diseases such as polio, small pox, tuberculosis have either eliminated or virtually eliminated by vaccinations and there are no questions asked about people having had their vaccines for these diseases.
Life insurance is based around numbers and science of which COVID is changing on a hourly basis. So what is happening currently overseas may change quite quickly where it will no longer be a question asked.
For example last year the majority of insurers stopped offering redundancy cover in New Zealand due to the pandemic and the likelihood of rising unemployment. The pandemic flipped unemployment numbers on their head like most things so this risk dissipated quite quickly and the majority of insurers are back offering this cover.
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