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Life Insurance Policy in effect BEFORE HIV Diagnosis
Feb 7, 2013

Scenario: Heterosexual Couple married many years, purchased Life Insurance policy within first couple years of marriage. Two and a half to Three years later, AFTER policy was purchased, one spouse is diagnosed as HIV+. Infected spouse maintained good health for many years, and through proper use of HIV meds, was "undetectable". Infected spouse died recently after battle with Cancer, (cause of death listed as Cancer as well). Surviving spouse filed claim on said Life Insurance policy and received payment. Now surviving spouse feels like he/she did something "wrong"/"illegal" by filing claim. I have tried to explain to him/her that they have done nothing wrong, since the policy was purchased and in effect BEFORE the HIV diagnosis was discovered, AND the cause of Death was Cancer, but they still feel guilt!! Am I correct? Since the policy was already in effect when the HIV diagnosis was discovered, wouldn't the company pay out the claim, especially when the cause of death was Cancer? Note: They never informed the Life Insurance company of the HIV diagnosis,(did they have to??!!), but always knew that it would be virtually impossible to raise the amount of coverage on the infected spouse after the diagnosis. Can you help me ease their "fears"?

Response from Mr. Chambers

The surviving spouse has done nothing wrong, immoral, or illegal.

First of all, since the policy was already in effect when diagnosed with HIV, the diagnosis had no effect on the validity of the policy at all. There is no requirement or even any reason to inform the insurance company of any changes in the insured person's health.

I'm assuming that, when filing the claim, the surviving spouse/beneficiary had to supply a copy of the death certificate. The cause of death is listed on that, and really had no effect on the validity of the insurance claim.

Whether the cause listed on that was cancer or HIV, it would have had no bearing on the validity of the claim.

Life insurance policies (ignoring the additions of accidental death, incontestable clauses, or other riders and provisions) are very simple contracts. When the insured person dies, the insurance company pays. And that's what happened in the couple's case.

If the widowed spouse still worries about the insurance, there could be emotional or guilt feelings about using the money. He or she should consider some counseling to work through the grief of loss.

Good luck, Jacques

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