UK Insurers have moved quickly to assure medical staff on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 that a positive test for the disease should not impact the ability to obtain life and income protection insurance cover.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has responded to the concerns raised by the British Medical Association which wrote to the ABI’s Chairman Jon Dye to raise concerns I behalf of its members.
In the letter the BMA said: “We are aware of instances of doctors’ applications for income protection and life assurance policies being deferred on the basis of a positive antigen test for COVID-19. In some cases, there has been a suggestion that the member cannot re-apply for a period of 3 months. This is causing significant anxiety to our members at a time of already unprecedented pressure.”
It added: “We understand that insurers have been reluctant to offer policies to those with recent COVID infection due to the fact that they want to ensure the applicant has fully recovered before providing cover. However, seeking an early confirmatory (antigen) test is essential for healthcare workers to ensure early detection and minimise the risk of transmission to patients and healthcare workers.”
The letter added the BMA had further concerns around the issue of when medical staff had undergone a positive test for the virus. It explained whilst it understood that insurers may be reluctant to offer income protection and life assurance policies to those with symptoms who have a positive antigen test until after recovery, the BMA does not see any rationale to refuse or defer someone’s application for a policy if they have fully recovered and have a positive antibody test.
The letter continued that the BMA had been informed that some insurers are asking about contact with people who are “COVID positive” but that the responses to these questions are being ignored by online underwriting tools for healthcare workers, who by the nature of their work will come into contact with patients who have COVID.
“Is this a consistent approach that is being taken by insurers? If it is not this would unfairly discriminate against healthcare workers who already take precautions in wearing PPE,” it added.
The ABI has responded to the letter and both associations have moved quickly to issue a short statement to clarify the issues raised.
“Having discussed the issue in detail, the BMA and ABI are clear that there should be no detriment to health care workers and no one should be discouraged from having a test,” it said. “Each application for life insurance and income protection will be assessed on an individual basis, regardless of profession, and focussed on the person’s health and severity of any symptoms at the time. A positive test for COVID (either a PCR or antibody test) should not delay an application as long as the individual has recovered and been back at work for the required period.”