Insurers attitudes to those with HIV are improving, but they still haven't yet caught up with medical advances

Some 75 per cent will now offer cover. The refuseniks just need to wake up to make market work effectively

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The Independent Online

On World AIDS Day it’s worth remembering how far we have come. When the world first became aware of the condition, the outlook for those affected was bleak. Now, however, people diagnosed HIV positive have every chance of enjoying the same sort of lifespan they might have expected before their diagnosis if they are properly treated. 

While the medical achievement is remarkable and impressive, an example of what can be achieved when people put their minds to it, the insurance industry hasn’t quite caught up with it. 

For years people with HIV were told they couldn’t get things like life insurance, to the extent that there are still people who simply cancel policies when they get their diagnoses. Even when, for a large number, there would have been no need to do so. 

This is particularly unfortunate, given that an increasing number of insurers are willing to offer life insurance cover to people with HIV. 

Unusual Risks, a company set up to help find mortgages, life cover and other financial products for those with pre-existing medical conditions such as HIV, says 75 per cent of insurers are now in that camp. 

That is a marked improvement compared to 2011, when the survey was first conducted at which time just 50 per cent of providers would offer cover. 

Efforts are now also being made towards reaching the 33 per cent of HIV positive people who are unaware of the change in insurance industry attitudes that it has taken to get to this point and still think there is no point in applying for policies. 

All this has taken time, and a lot of hard lobbying work. 

It’s worth noting that insurers aren’t motivated by altruism. The fact that the lifespans of those with HIV are comparable to those without it means there is good business to be had among that community, one whose members are under fairly close medical supervision so tend to keep themselves healthy. 

Unfortunately some still haven’t cottoned on to this. While 75 per cent is an improvement, that still means that a quarter of the industry is still failing to offer any sort of life insurance cover at all. More fool them, you might say, but this limits choice and makes for a market that is less effective than it might be. 

It’s also worth pointing out that while some cover can be obtained, the range of policies available and the amount of cover isn’t always what it might be, while other so called protection policies, such as income protection or critical illness cover, can be rather harder to find. 

Perhaps the refuseniks in the industry will take the publicity surrounding the day as an opportunity to educate themselves and that next year they’ll have caught up with the medical advances that have been made. That would be something to celebrate. 

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