When Prudential saw that people living with HIV were living longer, healthier lives, the company knew it had an untapped market for life insurance underwriting.
So Prudential decided to offer people living with HIV 10- and 15-year individual convertible term life insurance products, the company announced this week. In doing so, Prudential became the first major insurer seeking to cover people living with HIV.
The offering comes as infected people are living decades with the virus thanks to new drugs.
"As medical technology advances, we continuously evaluate and update our underwriting criteria, which has resulted in our ability to offer insurance to people dealing with various medical or chronic conditions," said Mike McFarland, chief underwriting officer for Prudential Individual Life Insurance.
Prudential first realized the potential to sell life insurance to people living with HIV "four or five years ago," McFarland told InsuranceNewsNet. But the company lacked a credible way to calculate mortality data on those individuals, he explained.
Enter Aequalis, a financial services company focused on providing insurance for people with HIV. Aequalis put together enough data to give Prudential confidence in the statistical reinforcement of what it projected for people living with HIV.
For now, Prudential is limiting its insurance offerings to people with HIV to the 10- and 15-year term life products. Basic underwriting will be the same as with regular policies, McFarland said.
"This is not an impaired product in any way," said McFarland, adding that he expects other major carriers to get into the market as well.
Underwriting terms will contain health qualifications, such as specific blood cell counts, similar to someone with coronary disease, he said. Anyone with an "AIDS-defining condition," or who acquired the virus through a blood transfusion or intravenous drug use would not be eligible.
“We would look for an individual to be at least one year out from the HIV diagnosis, and if they’re receiving treatment, we would look for them to be at least six months out from the start of receiving treatment," McFarland said.
The possibility of offering additional insurance products to people living with HIV is something that the company continues to evaluate, he added.
"We will look at the experience that we have, the business we're receiving ... and we expect that this is just the starting point," McFarland said, "and we will over time be able to broaden our product offerings."
Aequalis is providing consumers with direct access to information about the Prudential products and assisting with the application process. They are also working with financial professionals and other major insurance agencies and distributors to raise awareness and manage the process.
Andrew Terrell and Bill Grant, co-founders of Aequalis, have both been “deeply affected by the challenges experienced by close family and friends who were or are living with HIV,” the company said in a news release.
These personal experiences are what motivated Grant and Terrell to form Aequalis in 2010 and work with the financial services and insurance industries to drive change.
"The ability to help people provide security for loved ones, family members and business partners is a gratifying result," Grant said.
Aequalis provides assistance to those who want to learn more or access the application.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at [email protected].
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