Life Insurers Do Not Decline Death Claims Due to COVID-19 Vaccinations

Social media is an effective platform to communicate information efficiently and effectively. However, sometimes the information is inaccurate. One story that emerged shortly after COVID vaccinations were first distributed was the misconception that life insurers were denying claims if the insured was vaccinated.



This story continues to be perpetuated through social media and generally follows the pattern below

  • A person dies, but the life insurance claim is denied because the insured had been vaccinated.

  • Since the vaccine had yet to be approved by the FDA when the insured was vaccinated, the treatment is considered to be experimental, which is an excluded condition in the policy.

  • Some stories mislead even further and state that an insured’s willingness to partake in an experimental treatment that results in his or her death is technically suicide, which is grounds for denial of the claim.


These statements are false and have been fact- checked and disproven by credible sources. The article below cites sources from the American Council of Life Insurance, a national advocate for the life insurance industry and of which M Financial is very active:


https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2021/05/23/fact-check-covid-19-vaccine-wont-jeopardize-life-insurance-coverage/5203188001/


These stories are incorrect in multiple ways:

  • Before life insurance products can be sold, they must be filed and approved by either the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Commission ("Interstate Compact") or the Department of Insurance in the state where the policy is issued. The Interstate Compact governs insurance regulations for 47 states. These regulators ensure that the products meet the minimum standards for the state in which they are sold. According to the Interstate Compact, the only reasons a life insurance claim can be contested is for non-payment of premium, material misrepresentation, or fraud during the procurement of the policy.[1] If in doubt, check the incontestability terms and conditions of your particular policy.

  • There is no exclusion in life insurance policy language for experimental treatment. This type of exclusion would be counter to ongoing improvements in medical treatments and ultimately conflict with the best interests of life insurers, which benefits from improved longevity of their policyholders. In addition, the first COVID-19 vaccination was officially approved for individuals ages 16 and older on August 23, 2021. Prior to that, vaccines were approved under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) since December 11, 2020. According to the FDA, "EUAs can be used by the FDA during public health emergencies to provide access to medical products that may be effective in preventing, diagnosing, or treating a disease, provided that the FDA determines that the known and potential benefits of a product, when used to prevent, diagnose, or treat the disease, outweigh the known and potential risks of the product."[2] In other words, any medical treatment with EAU authorization is considered to be equivalent to FDA approval and not classified as an experimental treatment.

  • Getting vaccinated is not suicide. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, “Suicide is the willful and voluntary act of a person who understands the physical nature of the act and intends by it to accomplish the result of self-destruction.”[3] People getting vaccinated are not willfully and voluntarily attempting self-destruction; they are taking the vaccine to avoid destruction by preventing or lessening the severity of a potentially fatal virus, COVID-19.[4]


In addition, while most life insurance policies indeed exclude suicide, according to the Interstate Compact and most states’ departments of insurance, the suicide exclusion period cannot exceed two years from the date of policy issue.


While stories like the one above attract a lot of attention, the life insurance industry is built upon relatively simple promises to policyholders and their families, as documented in their insurance policies. These policies are heavily regulated to ensure high standards of customer protection. They are also written in plain language for easier comprehension.


The insurance industry has been around for almost 200 years and has experienced past pandemics, wars, and economic turmoil. In the end, it has always come through because of its commitment to upholding its promises to policyholders and their families



[1] Interstate Compact Term Life Insurance Policy Standards. "Incontestability." Page 11.

https://www.insurancecompact.org/sites/default/files/legacy/rulemaking_records/141204_amend_individual_term_life_insurance_policy.pdf


[2] FDA News Release. "FDA Approves First COVID-19 Vaccine." August 23, 2021.

https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-covid-19-vaccine


[3] Black’s Law Dictionary. "Suicide."

https://thelawdictionary.org/suicide/


[4] Interstate Compact Term Life Insurance Policy Standards. "Suicide." P. 18.

https://www.insurancecompact.org/sites/default/files/legacy/rulemaking_records/141204_amend_individual_term_life_insurance_policy.pdf

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