Companies refute claim they stopped offering life insurance in response to Covid-19 vaccines
Multiple Facebook posts claim that several Australian companies' decisions to stop offering life insurance policies are linked to Covid-19 vaccines, and that the companies will not cover people who have been vaccinated. However, the claim is misleading; all three companies involved told AFP that their decisions were not related to Covid-19 vaccines, and that receiving a Covid-19 vaccination approved for use in Australia would not exclude people from existing life insurance policies.
The claim was shared in this Facebook post published on August 25, 2021.
"For those getting the vx [vaccine] have you checked with your life insurance company that you are still covered?" the post's caption reads. "I have heard that they won’t cover you anymore if you have. Something to think about!"
"Seems like a few of the big boys are not offering life insurance anymore? Seem weird?" the text in the image reads.
However, the claim is misleading.
In response to enquiries from AFP, the companies named in the misleading post denied they had stopped offering life insurance products due to Covid-19 vaccines and that they would not cover those who have received a Covid-19 vaccine.
Insurance Australia Group (IAG), which backed NRMA's life insurance product, told AFP via email on August 31, 2021 that it had decided to no longer offer its life insurance product in April 2021 because the company's current strategy is to focus on other "core general insurance business (such as home, motor, business and landlord insurance products)".
"We will continue to evaluate new propositions and offerings for Life and Income protection in the future," the statement reads.
"NRMA Life and Income Protection Insurance policies provide cover and benefits related to COVID-19 including complications from vaccinations. We will continue to support our customers who hold existing life and income protection insurance policies, including any claims they make, in line with policy terms and conditions."
IAG also backed a life insurance product sold by CGU, which was no longer offered in April 2018 "due to the low number of policies sold".
NAB told AFP via email on August 27, 2021 that it had removed its life insurance product in July 2020, following a review "on the suitability of the product for customers" which began prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"There are no exclusions within the policy relating to pandemics or new vaccines," a NAB spokesperson said in a statement. "Claims made by current policyholders will be assessed by MLC Life, and paid if they are assessed as claimable under the policy criteria."
An NIB spokesperson said it was "currently evaluating" whether it would offer new life insurance products.
"nib made the decision from April 2021 to cease offering for sale life insurance products through our provider, TAL, following regulatory changes that impacted the way nib offers complementary insurance products to our members," the statement sent to AFP via email on August 31, 2021 reads.
"This decision was not related to the COVID-19 pandemic or COVID-19 vaccine in any way. nib will continue to support our members who hold existing life and income protection insurance policies," the statement added.
Additionally, NIB said that receiving a Covid-19 vaccination approved for use in Australia would not alter existing insurance cover, and that customers would "not be refused cover for treatment based on their decision to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, provided they hold the level of cover required for treatment."
Australia's life insurance industry has struggled in recent years, with financial advisory firm KPMG reporting that the sector experienced an AUD$1.3 billion aggregate loss in the 12 months to June 30, 2020.
The country's Covid-19 vaccine rollout has been sluggish, culminating in lockdowns for much of the country as it struggles to contain the highly transmissible Delta variant.