People with HIV still struggle to access insurance

A new report published by NAT (National AIDS Trust) confirms that despite improvements over the past decade, people living with HIV continue to face barriers accessing insurance.

The research shows that one in four (25%) people living with HIV have been refused a financial product or quoted an unaffordable premium in the last five years. Some insurance products, such as income protection insurance and critical illness cover, remain completely unavailable to people living with HIV.

From the 1980s up until the early 2000s, it was nearly impossible for someone living with HIV to access many financial products, including mortgages, life and protection insurance products, and even general insurance products such as motor insurance.

Due to improvements in availability over the last decade this is no longer the case – yet barriers still remain.

Deborah Gold

Deborah Gold

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT said: “Most people diagnosed with HIV today can expect to live a healthy life with a normal life expectancy; their long-term financial security is as important as anyone else’s. Given the dramatic improvements in the health of people living with HIV since effective treatment, we question whether substantially higher insurance premiums (or total exclusion from a product) are necessary or appropriate.”

“We’re especially concerned that critical illness cover policies will only pay claims for HIV when acquired through an occupational injury or assault. HIV is singled out as the only condition where mode of transmission is relevant to the success of a claim. This differential treatment is stigmatising and unnecessary.”

People living with HIV often struggle to navigate a marketplace which caters for the standard consumer – with only three in ten (28%) saying they knew where to look for HIV-inclusive insurance products.

Negative experiences have led three in five (60%) people to avoid applying for financial products because of their HIV status. This self-exclusion is largely due to fears of refusal, higher costs and stigma.

Deborah added: “Many people still remember, or have heard about, the discrimination faced by people living with HIV from the insurance sector up until the early 2000s. We applaud the insurance sector for the significant steps taken to eradicate discriminatory practices and improve access for people living with HIV, but we have found that many people are still not aware of these changes or struggle to find HIV-inclusive products. It’s therefore vital that insurance providers and HIV organisations work together to better communicate the availability of financial products to people living with HIV.”

“We know that the difficulties some people living with HIV face in accessing certain insurance products illustrate a much wider issue facing people with pre-existing conditions. All stakeholders, including the FCA and the Government, need to work strategically together to address the persistent barriers to access that many people face because of their health condition and determine how their needs can be better met.”

Laurie Edmans, Commissioner at the Financial Inclusion Commission, said: “The positive developments in improved life expectancy and health of people diagnosed with HIV are very welcome. It is important that the terms which insurers offer accurately reflect the risks as they are today, not as they were, or as they might be perceived. Some insurers do so in this sensitive area, but it is not universally so. This important piece of work by NAT shows that there are opportunities, as well as issues, and is very timely.”

Paul Fleming, HIV community representative, added: “HIV medication has progressed incredibly in the last 20 years but society hasn’t kept up. I am fit, healthy and HIV positive; it isn’t a contradiction. Yet financial services have been slow to wake up to that fact. This is a great piece of work by NAT.”

Chris Morgan

Chris Morgan, Lead Financial Adviser, Unusual Risks Mortgage & Insurance Services, said: “Unusual Risks welcome any initiative that helps to raise awareness of accessibility of financial products within the HIV Community. We are very pleased to have been consulted and be supporting this extensive report from NAT. This is the first time that a HIV organisation based in England has looked at financial issues.”

“Our lead financial adviser Chris Morgan has been campaigning around these issues for nearly two decades and we also believe there is still a great amount work left to do in securing equality for people living with HIV. Several of the “Key Findings” of the report have similarities to some of our previously published research”.

“For example, only 49% of survey respondents believe that Life Insurance is unavailable to people living with HIV, despite it being available since its launch in 2009 . This shows there is still a great amount of work to be done to raise awareness of financial products amongst people living with HIV”.

“We also note the concerns that respondents had in the report over disclosures relating to their medical information. Unusual Risks have great experience in protecting a person’s medical information and their confidentiality. We realise how important this issue is within the HIV Community”.

“Chris Morgan led the campaign that secured Life Assurance for people living with HIV in 2009 and  there are still many products that are inaccessible to people living HIV such as Income Protection and Critical Illness Cover (IPP & CIC). We continue to encourage the Association of British Insurers to make IPP & CIC available to people living with HIV”.

“We really do hope that any extra awareness created by this report will encourage people living with HIV to look after their financial future and seek advice from firms such as ourselves that specialise in advice for people living with HIV . Unusual Risks are committed to representing the HIV community within the financial services industry”.

To download a copy of the report, click here:


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