Global life insurers are taking steps to curb payouts stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, including long-term health consequences that are not fully understood, industry sources told Reuters.
Life insurers, including Prudential Financial Inc, and Aviva PLC, are now imposing waiting periods before COVID-19 patients, including those who have recovered, can apply for coverage, executives and spokespeople said. Some are also limiting coverage for certain age groups.
These changes come as some reinsurers demand new safeguards from life insurers they backstop, and as the industry struggles to ascertain the extent of problems caused by the novel coronavirus.
COVID-19 has killed over 2.1 million people globally and infected nearly 100 million, according to a Reuters tally.
Some victims suffer long-term consequences including severe respiratory problems, organ damage, circulatory impairment and chronic fatigue. Three weeks after recovery, 10 percent of COVID-19 patients are still unwell and up to 5 percent feel sick for months, according to scientists at King’s College London.
The pandemic has also caused a mental-health crisis for those who could not say goodbye to loved ones or have been isolated for months, while exacerbating substance-abuse issues for others.
It is too early to know how many people will file claims for death, long-term illness or disability as a result, but insurers worry the consequences could last for decades.
“We have attempted as a company to strategize about modeling this and have made some headway but are far from the crystal ball that is able to predict this,” said Dr. Paulo Bandeira Pinho, chief medical director of Optimum Re Insurance Co.