Fact check: COVID-19 vaccine won’t jeopardize your life insurance coverage

The claim: Insurance companies are denying life insurance payouts after people received the COVID-19 vaccine

More than 163 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of May 23, but that doesn’t jeopardize their life insurance policies.

Claims that life insurance companies are denying life insurance coverage to people who received the vaccine popped up again in May, two months after an industry trade group sought toquash similar rumors that circulated on social media.

An Instagram post that generated more than 1,200 likes as of May 23 claims that a “friends aunt” died and “was denied her life insurance because… she willingly took an EXPERIMENTAL vaccine.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use are safe and effective.

About 54% of Americans are covered under a life insurance policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Applications ticked up during the pandemic, though, mostly among younger people, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The account that shared the post declined to provide USA TODAY with additional details, including the name and contact information for the person who it said was denied or the insurance company responsible for the denial.

Fact check: No, COVID-19 vaccine isn’t transmitted to others via contact

Industry groups, state regulators and individual insurers have said the vaccine is not a factor in life insurance.

Insurance industry dispels vaccine myth

The insurance industry and regulators have pushed back against misinformation surrounding life insurance coverage and claims about payouts related to people who get the COVID-19 vaccine.

In March, the American Council of Life Insurers responded to a social media post that said payouts were being denied to beneficiaries when the insured received the vaccine.

“Life insurance policy contracts are very clear on how policies work, and what cause, if any, might lead to the denial of a benefit,” said Paul Graham, the organization’s senior vice president, in a prepared statement on March 12.

Whether someone received the COVID-19 vaccine is not a consideration for life insurers when they are deciding whether to pay a claim, he said.

“The COVID vaccine does not impact life insurance costs for coverage already in place,” said Jan Graeber, ACLI’s senior health actuary, in response to questions from USA TODAY about the potential for someone who was vaccinated to be denied coverage. “For new coverage, and not just related to COVID, companies consider health factors as information is available and in accordance with regulations that govern the industry. As experience with COVID grows, there may be near-term impacts to consider, including with the vaccine and new virus strains and consumer behavior to mitigate risk. There may also be long-term impacts to consider as more information is gathered about COVID.”

A Canadian trade group also responded in March to misinformation about the effect of a COVID-19 vaccine on life insurance.

States, where insurance companies are regulated, issued similar statements calming fears about coverage and payment denials.

Regulators in Maryland, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Washington State all said the same thing: Whether someone is vaccinated against COVID-19 is irrelevant to whether a life insurance claim would be paid. Industry groups in those states joined regulators in their statements.

“Pennsylvanians should be wary of social media posts and conversations claiming the vaccine will prevent them from obtaining life insurance policies or adversely impact their life insurance benefits; this is simply not true,” Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said in a prepared statement on March 25.

Some individual life insurers also say the COVID-19 vaccine is not a factor in decisions about coverage or payment.

John Hancock’s application for life insurance doesn’t ask whether an individual has been vaccinated against COVID-19, the company said in a March 15 post on its website, and would not be factored into “the risk classification process.” Prudential’s website also says the COVID-19 vaccine does not affect eligibility determination in paying claims. 

“We do not ask about immunizations (for any virus/disease) through the application process and have no plans to ask about the COVID-19 vaccine,” according to Lincoln Financial Group’s website. “Therefore, the COVID-19 vaccine is not a factor in the underwriting process.”

Registered nurse Lillye Neal administers a syringe of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Kenneth West in Detroit on Wednesday. (Photo: Paul Sancya/AP)

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that life insurance companies are denying policy payouts because insureds received the COVID-19 vaccine. The American Council of Life Insurers, individual insurance companies and regulators in several states have released statements saying the COVID-19 vaccine is not a factor in determining whether an insurer will pay out on a life insurance policy.

Our fact-check sources:

  • The Associated Press, March 15, Getting COVID-19 vaccine does not affect life insurance death payments
  • American Council of Life Insurers, March 12, AMERICAN COUNCIL OF LIFE INSURERS (ACLI) RESPONDS TO SOCIAL MEDIA MISINFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINE
  • Money.com, April 8, True or False: You Can Be Denied Life Insurance if You Haven’t Gotten a COVID-19 Vaccine
  • The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 1, Covid-19 Pandemic Motivates Younger People to Buy Life Insurance
  • Maryland Insurance Administration, March 30, Consumer Alert – Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination does not imperil life insurance benefits
  • John Hancock, March 15, John Hancock Underwriting and COVID-19
  • New York Department of Financial Services, accessed May 23, Life Insurance and the COVID-19 Vaccine
  • Lincoln Financial Group, accessed May 23, Applying for and managing your policy during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Texas Department of Insurance, March 17, COVID-19 vaccinations don’t affect life insurance benefits
  • Prudential, accessed May 23, COVID-19 FAQ
  • Pennsylvania, March 25, Insurance Department, Insurance Industry Reassure Pennsylvanians COVID-19 Vaccine Does Not Impact Life Insurance
  • FT Adviser, May 5, Warning issued over scam claiming Covid vaccine voids insurance
  • Reuters, March 19, Fact Check-Canadian company is not changing life insurance policies to negatively affect those who get vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Manulife, accessed May 23, The truth about COVID-19 vaccination and insurance coverage
  • National Association of Insurance Commissioners, accessed May 23, State Insurance Regulation
  • Britannica.com, May 11, The Top COVID-19 Vaccine Myths Spreading Online
  • Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, March 8, Know the facts: Getting the vaccine will not affect your insurance coverage
  • Insurance Information Institute, accessed May 23, Facts + Statistics: Life insurance
  • Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, March 18, Kreidler sets record straight on vaccines and life insurance
  • Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, March 15, ​​​​​Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Confirms Getting Vaccinated ​Will Not Impact Life Insurance Policies
  • Pennsylvania Insurance Department, March 25, Insurance Department, Insurance Industry Reassure Pennsylvanians COVID-19 Vaccine Does Not Impact Life Insurance
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed May 23, COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 11, Safety of COVID-19 Vaccines
  • American Council of Life Insurers senior health actuary Jan Graeber, May 21, response to USA TODAY

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