Those who refuse to have the coronavirus vaccine, should one become widely available, could be offered different life insurance terms to those who have had the vaccine.
Reassured director of corporate sales Phil Jeynes told City A.M. that the existence of a coronavirus vaccine could mean customers who have had the vaccine are offered different terms to those who have not, based upon the increased risk for those who have not had the vaccine.
Jeynes explained that since the early days of the pandemic insurers introduced two or three additional underwriting questions designed to establish whether the applicant presented a major risk of coronavirus, such as ‘have you had or come into contact with someone who’s had coronavirus?’
“For customers with, or at high risk of contracting covid, insurers have tended to apply a postponement period and then asked the customer to come back and confirm they’re recovered or have had a negative test result,” Jeynes continued. “If the customer doesn’t have any covid symptoms or contact, it’s been business as usual for life insurance – same products, same prices.
“A vaccine therefore presents the opportunity to remove those extra questions and make underwriting slightly faster again, but otherwise won’t have much impact. It’s possible insurers would start to ask whether clients have received the vaccine once it becomes commonplace, and that could be used to offer different terms based on the increased risk for people who choose not to be vaccinated, but that’s some way off and would obviously be weighed alongside myriad other factors and risks, such as other medical conditions, BMI level, age, and so on.”
Last week Pfizer announced that its experimental Covid vaccine proved 90 per cent effective in phase three clinical trials. The UK government has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine. Earlier this week the UK secured 5 million doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine, which proved 95 per cent effective in late-stage clinical trials.
So far, the UK has secured 355 million doses of potential vaccines produced by seven different companies
The UK government has a priority list for vaccinating people against coronavirus. First in line for a vaccine are care home residents and carers, followed by older age groups from 80-plus-year-olds, going down to 65-plus-year-olds. Then adults with underlying health conditions, then 50-plus-year-olds, going down the age bands.
When it comes to medical insurance, Assured Futures director Ian Sawyer thought it unlikely refusing a coronavirus vaccine would have an impact.
He explained: “If we compare with flu, no insurer seeks knowledge of or demands any customer has the flu jab, and yet we also lose around 20,000 people a year to flu, so this precedent would say no.”
With that said he did not entirely rule out additional rules around the vaccine, adding: “Strangers things have happened so it remains a possibility.”
The director said ultimately whether the coronavirus vaccine will have an impact of medical insurance came down to how much more serious insurers viewed Covid-19 in comparison to flu.
“Covid is unlikely to make many claims on private medical insurance as treating Covid is generally emergency treatment and would be usually handled by the NHS, so Covid itself should not provoke that much rise in risks and costs,” he continued.
“[But] the impact of Covid is on the wider access to treatment for other conditions, resulting in massive NHS queues, which should provoke more people to consider private medical insurance – although of course buying it now won’t help anyone needing immediate treatment, as pre-existing conditions will be excluded.”