Life Insurance for the HIV Positive

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Yes, you can get a life insurance policy if you're HIV+ Positive. And yes for some, you should get a life insurance policy if you're HIV+ Positive.

Not so long ago, if someone living with HIV asked if they could get individual life insurance the answer was a resounding NO!!! And even today, if you're HIV+ and ask your financial planner, or insurance guy/gal, if a life policy is possible, you will probably still get a big 'Not so fast, buster!' or at least the discouraging news that they aren't able to offer it through their company.

While the stigma around HIV/AIDS is diminishing, many people would rather not disclose their status to even their most trusted financial professional let alone an insurance salesman. Truth is, if someone is just selling you some investments, your health issues really aren't that pertinent. But on the other hand, if you are developing a financial plan for your future (and praise the skies, you now actually have a future), your HIV status could alter its recommendations.

Developments in science and medicine have given the gift of longevity to many people, none more so than those living with HIV. Though chronic, HIV is both manageable and treatable; those with it enjoy longer, more active and healthier lives than ever before. The irony is that many HIV+ people never thought they would live to see 40, let alone 50, 60, 70 and beyond. Consequently, they are neither financially nor mentally prepared for the exponentially rising costs of growing older.

I'm here to tell you today that life Insurance may give some people a way to 'catch-up' or leave a legacy when their time is up. Until recently this hasn't been possible for those living with HIV - gay, straight or otherwise. In personal financial terms, this is very big news. Now, I'm by no means recommending everyone with HIV runs out and buys a new life insurance policy today, but I do want to highlight this a viable option. There are life insurance products out there for those living with HIV, no matter what some uninformed insurance agent or boneheaded financial advisor who is out of the loop tells you.

Limited previous options
Over the years there have been very few life insurance options for the HIV+, mostly limited to small policies that were 1) Guaranteed issue or 2) Term life insurance at work. Both of these really made it hard to properly insure members of the LGBT community in general and its HIV+ members in particular.

Guarantees issue policies come with extra costs
Previously, some companies offered "guaranteed issue" life insurance policies to anyone, including those with HIV. When guaranteed issue policies were available - and often they were not - they paid out only small amounts and were quite expensive. The thinking went if you were healthy you wouldn't be searching out a policy with no medical underwriting or questions. So the insurance companies already assumed you were suffering from some illness, and accordingly priced that into their policies. To add insult to injury, many of these policies had extremely low death benefits, often in the $5000 to $10000 range. Some daring insurance companies offered policies in the $25,000 range over the years, but they were only on the market for a short period of time.

Term Insurance from your Employer come with downsides as well:
Life insurance you get through work is better than nothing, but it often isn't a great financial planning tool for most people. The misconception here is that having any policy and having enough coverage are the same thing. (I'll be posting more on this at another time.) The big issue with life insurance through work is that it generally isn't portable if your work situation changes. You are covered while you are working, but the coverage usually ends once you leave your job. So the bad news is when you get sick, your odds of quitting your job or being let go increase exponentially, denying you the coverage when you actually need it the most.

So let's look at some more attractive options.

Life insurance eligibility after HIV diagnosis
To qualify for life insurance in general you generally will have to meet minimum basic underwriting requirements. HIV+-specific life insurance policies have a few additional requirements including, but not limited to, being a US resident between the ages of 30 and 60 and in otherwise good health. Plus, every life insurance application I've seen over the year expressly asks your HIV status and often will test for HIV during the Portamedic exam.

Life insurance policies for the HIV+ are potential financial planning tools new to the market and so far only available through a select group of LGBT-sensitive financial professionals. I rarely recommend a specific product or company without meeting an individual client first. But here I want to give a shout out to Aequalis and Prudential for leading the way and offering these policies to help members of an often unfairly-stigmatized community achieve their financial goals, and work towards financial security.

Advances in medicine - and ethics . . . and awareness - will hopefully make similar coverage like this more available in the future, but we do face an uphill battle. Some insurance companies seem to be going backwards, literally denying people coverage for taking the preventative TRUVADA/PREP. I personally had a piss-ignorant underwriter ask me what disease the potential client was being treated with this drug, and what the client's prognosis for recovery was. Grrrrrr.

Taking care of yourself isn't just limited to keeping your viral load to a minimum. It's also taking care of the life logistics that can make the difference between living well and merely surviving. Retirement savings and life insurance are but two of these tools available to those living with HIV. May you live long and prosper!

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Until Next time and as always, Be Fiscally Fabulous! Remember YOUR MONEY MATTERS!

DAVID RAE, CFP®, AIF® is a Los Angeles-based Wealth Manager with Trilogy Financial Services, a regular contributor to the Advocate Magazine and a financial adviser proudly serving friends of the LGBT community for over a decade. Check out his blog FinancialPlannerLA.com for more LGBT specific information.

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Securities and advisory services offered through National Planning Corporation (NPC), Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Additional advisory services offered through Trilogy Capital, a Registered Investment Adviser. Trilogy Capital, Trilogy Financial and NPC are separate and unrelated companies.