The Financial Services Council has announced a commitment, on behalf of participating life insurance FSC member companies, to ensure that frontline healthcare workers are not prevented from obtaining life insurance cover purely because of their exposure, or potential exposure, to COVID-19.
An FSC statement says that frontline healthcare workers are a group who could be exposed to contracting COVID-19 and to this end, participating life insurers are making a commitment that their exposure, or potential exposure, will not of itself be used to:
- Decline an application for cover
- Charge a higher premium
- Apply a COVID-19 pandemic risk exclusion to any of the benefits offered
It says this is subject to the relevant conditions and financial limits.
“This means not only doctors, nurses and hospital staff but also those who may potentially be exposed to COVID-19 such as police, pharmacists, paramedics and age care workers.
“While not everyone will be able to get new cover for other unrelated reasons, this commitment means potential exposure to COVID-19 alone won’t affect the cover these workers can get with participating life insurers,” Loane says.
The statement from FSC says Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology, Senator the Hon Jane Hume, has welcomed the announcement.
“Our frontline workers are doing an amazing job in this crisis, and it’s vital that we’re ensuring their work won’t adversely affect their life insurance cover,” Assistant Minister Hume says.
“I thank the FSC and insurers for their responsiveness on this issue.”
FSC says this commitment is subject to authorisation by the ACCC.
The statement also notes that for people who had life cover in place before 11 March 2020 when the World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus to be a pandemic, “…our members have confirmed that there are no exclusions that would prevent the policy paying out for a death claim related to coronavirus, if you follow Government travel advice”.
A second statement from FSC entitled “COVID-19 Commitment to Frontline Healthcare Workers” says that life insurance companies will confirm their participation by making a public statement and announcement on their website.
It notes that:
- The agreement applies to new underwritten applications for individual life insurance benefits up to the financial limits below for relevant healthcare workers
- The normal underwriting process and rules will apply to individuals for health conditions unrelated to coronavirus
- Applicants who have tested positive for COVID-19, or who are waiting for a test result, will not be immediately eligible for cover.
As to financial limits, the FSC statement says the commitment “… applies to the total amounts of cover the applicant would have, including both the cover being applied for and any existing individual and group insurance cover with all life insurers in aggregate, up to the following amounts:
- $750,000 of lump sum death cover
- $500,000 of total permanent disability cover (TPD)
- $200,000 of trauma and/or critical illness cover
- $4,000 a month in total of any combination of income protection, salary continuance or business expenses cover.
It says that nothing in this commitment prevents any life insurer from providing additional coverage in excess of the above.
FSC also notes that the commitment starts on 6 April 2020 and will continue until at least 1 July 2020 when it will be reviewed with a view to extending it if required.