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Life & Disability Insurance in the Time of COVID19
Founder & CEO

COVID19 has created a ton of interest in life & disability insurance. We’re confronted daily with news of death and sickness, and our upended daily experience reminds us of how fragile “normal life” can be. (For context, I live in NYC, my spouse & I both work full-time in normal times, and our kids are 4 & 6, both doing remote learning - “upended” is putting it mildly.)

Understandably, people have a lot of questions about how getting coverage works in a global pandemic. 

The good news is that the industry is open and operating, and many carriers have responded to this public health crisis by increasing options to get coverage in a physically-distanced, COVID19-safe way.

Here at AboveBoard, we help clients find carriers that best fit their needs - including COVID19 safety - and we wanted to share those tips with you & answer some commonly asked questions.

Q: Have life insurance prices gone up?

Short answer: No, but now is a great time to get coverage if it’s lingering on your to-do list, because there’s a good chance they will. 

Slightly longer answer: Insurance prices have to be filed with the state regulator. That means that price changes take time. Insurance pricing is not like the stock market, where prices can fluctuate wildly, based on perceptions of risk. 

We have seen activity indicating prices will go up in the future (e.g. some carriers pulling some products, with the intent of repricing).

Q: Do I need to get a paramedical exam (blood draw, etc.)?

The insurance industry has responded to COVID19 by expanding the ways you can apply for low-priced coverage without a paramedical exam. 

There are different COVID19-adjusted application programs being offered by different carriers, but here’s a sampling of common components of application processes - which one(s) you’re asked to do depend on what you’re applying for and which carrier:

  • You authorize the insurance carrier to check databases (prescription drug records, driving record, etc.)
  • You do a video interview and provide health information to a trained interviewer
  • You electronically connect your medical records to the carrier for the purpose of evaluating your insurance application (this works if you have an online patient portal - think Mint for health records)
  • You provide results from an annual physical or other doctor’s appointment in lieu of a paramedical exam (download a pdf from your patient portal, etc.)

Here at AboveBoard we help match you with the carrier that best fits your needs, and that now includes COVID19 safety.

There are a number of situations where it’s very clear-cut that someone can apply using one or more of the above strategies.

In other situations, it’s at the carrier’s discretion if they will accept the alternative documentation. To assist clients in getting through, we submit a cover letter that provides extra context for your request - an injection of humanity into the process. That’s part of our role advocating for you!

Q: I would only get covered if I knew I could avoid a paramedical exam. What should I do?

Get an instant online quote for life insurance or a disability insurance quote at AboveBoard, and one of our human experts will review and advise you on your best COVID19-safe insurance coverage strategy. We are tracking the changing landscape of options and can help guide you to attractively priced coverage that you’re comfortable applying for during a global pandemic.

The fact that we work with multiple carriers empowers us to make sure that any particular carrier isn’t the final say on a client’s options - if, during the application process, we get an answer we don’t like, we can go back into the market and look for your best option. We handle the legwork for you.

Q: I have some medically complex issues. Can I still get covered?

A number of carriers are still open to insuring people with a significant health condition (or several) in their profile. Other carriers have temporarily pulled back from this part of the market, called “table-rated”. 

Being table-rated does not mean sick - most people who are table-rated are living healthy, great lives, and are table-rated due to a particular diagnosis or condition that does not define them.

If you have a more complex profile, we have a special process that susses out your best option in the market - it’s anonymous and free, so it’s a great way to find out what your options really are. 

If we find that your would-be best carrier has temporarily pulled back, we can advise you on smart strategies for getting something in place during the pandemic but then trying for coverage you’ll like even better after things get back to normal, assuming that your health profile is kind of similar to what it is today. 

The “Armageddon” scenario for your family is obviously that you die or become sick while waiting for something better, so that’s not an acceptable risk. But you can “round down” to meet budget goals while you wait. Say your youngest is 2 and you plan to retire in ~30 years. You’d like $2 million 30 year term, ideally. Maybe you take $2 million of 20 year term from your 2nd-choice carrier (should at least get your kids through college), with a plan to try for 30 year once we’re approaching normal again.

Q: I have COVID19 - can I get coverage?

Unfortunately not. You would need to recover fully before getting coverage is a possibility. 

Q: I don’t have COVID19, but I’m really worried about it. I want coverage ASAP - what should I do?

Optimizing for speed to completion is a goal that some clients have, and we can help you with that. Just tell us that’s what you want, so we can focus on the best options for that goal. Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of picking the right carrier, and we’ll always be transparent about the trade-offs - is this also the least expensive option? If not, how much more does this convenience & peace of mind cost?

We’ll also advise you on where you can make choices to optimize for speed - for example, say you determine that ideally you’d like $2.6 million of 30 year term. But you tell us you want to get covered ASAP. We’ll tell you if there’s a great speed-focused application process available for up to $2.5 million.

Q: What do I do if I am not able to get a waiver of the paramedical exam, and have to complete an exam in order to get coverage?

First, you can defer the exam for a few weeks or until after lockdowns are eased.

Second, expect extraordinary precautionary measures. (Think the examiner wearing a full face shield throughout your exam - it might feel a little surreal, but it's for everyone's safety.)

Even in normal times, there are precautionary measures, but COVID19 has taken it to a whole new level. A paramedical exam typically involves a blood draw and a urine sample, so the trained professionals performing these exams have always been trained in how to handle potentially dangerous exposures. Given the unique challenges of COVID19, the exam companies are responding accordingly.

Here at AboveBoard we're in close communication with the paramedical exam companies to understand how they are protecting clients and their own team members. If you need to complete a paramedical exam, we will provide you with a detailed list of what you can expect from your examiner, and additional precautions we recommend that you take.

This is an unusual (and often stressful) time for all of us - here at AboveBoard we’re proud of the work we’ve done to continue advocating for our clients’ best interests, and we would be happy to help you get the coverage you need!

Visit our interactive life insurance calculator to get clear, honest advice about life insurance and compare online quotes.

Need to check "life insurance" off your to do list?
Visit our interactive life insurance guide to get ethical, thoughtful insurance advice and online quotes. If you have questions, we'd be delighted to help - just schedule a time to chat with Wallis or email us at concierge@aboveboardfinancial.com
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Wallis is the Founder & CEO of AboveBoard Financial, a company reinventing investment advice and insurance with revolutionary transparency and honesty. Wallis spent over 10 years at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker and hedge fund investor in financial institutions. She founded AboveBoard to cut through the BS and present important choices with clarity and compassion. Wallis lives in New York City with her husband and two young children.