Laura Berry is a former State Farm insurance producer and insurance expert.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Jan 12, 2017

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Don't miss these facts...

  • The CDC estimates at least 1.2 million Americans live with HIV
  • It is the 8th and 9th leading cause of death for young Americans below the age of 35
  • Increasing numbers of those with HIV, including celebrities are reducing the stigma
  • Life expectancy has improved to near normal levels for those seeking and getting proper treatment early
  • Improved testing and treatment, lower-cost medications, longer life spans and better educatiuon are making life insurance possible
  • Reduce life insurance rates by staying healthy, stop smoking and maintaining policy

How Prevalent Is HIV?

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The CDC estimates that as many as 1.2 million Americans were living with HIV at the end of 2013. These are the last statistics researched by scientific method for both those known to have the diagnosis and those exposed/infected unawares.

In 2015, 39,513 people were newly diagnosed with HIV. There was an appreciable 9 percent drop in the numbers of new HIV diagnosis between the years 2010 and 2014.

This is slight, but any reduction in numbers is welcome. AIDS/HIV is the 8th leading cause of death for those in their mid to late twenties and the 9th leading cause of death for people in their late twenties to mid-thirties.

The demographic of location for HIV “hot-spots” seem to all show urban areas as higher concentrations, but this is thought to be due to the higher number of individuals in one location.

Southern regions of the US are higher in diagnosis numbers than most, with the exception of the Northeast. This also bears out statistically as New York City alone contains over 8 million people.

Learn more about life insurance and HIV below and make sure to check out our free comparison quote tool above!

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The Changing Views of HIV

The beginning of the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the late 1970’s was a time of abstract fear of the disease. It was automatically thought to be a death sentence.

Once diagnosed with HIV, it seemed to be a matter of months before it turned to full-blown AIDS and the person died. That is no longer the case with improved testing, access to medications and proper treatment.

The ability for many people to have access to healthcare with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act has offered a way for those facing a possible diagnosis to feel comfortable that treatment will be available.

Celebrities that have come out publicly in their fight against HIV have done a lot to fight the social stigma. Actor Charlie Sheen, Olympian Greg Louganis and basketball legend Magic Johnson are only three of many famous individuals that have been diagnosed with HIV.

It has become more understood that anyone can acquire HIV and still live a relatively normal life. This has helped pave the way for better access to healthcare and life insurance.

What Is the Life Expectancy for Those With HIV?

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The CDC estimates that of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV, only 40 percent are actively receiving care. Those receiving care, diagnosed early and taking proper medications have a life expectancy of an average 71 years.

A person living without HIV has a life expectancy of 79 years. Diagnosis by age 20 without treatment shows a life expectancy of 32 years.

There is no way to deny that early diagnosis and treatment has a direct positive impact on life expectancy.

Improved public perception on testing and getting treatment is extending the life span of people every day.

Life insurance companies have taken notice. The ability to plan for a long and healthy life provides insurance opportunities where none existed previously. An otherwise healthy individual can live decades with this diagnosed disease.

What Makes Life Insurance for HIV Diagnosed Individuals Possible?

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There is an increased financial risk for any insurance company to underwrite someone with a major illness that reduces life expectancy. At any point, things can go terribly wrong and the individual dies.

This leaves the company having to pay out a death benefit earlier than expected in a normal healthy individual. There are specific changes that have impacted the view of covering those diagnosed with HIV.

Improved Testing and Treatments

Increasingly sensitive tests that can detect HIV in the body faster than ever have assisted in getting people treatment earlier. More is known about contracting and successfully fighting the disease than ever before.

Lower Cost Pharmaceuticals

Chronic and deadly illness has been a money making propositions for pharmaceutical companies for decades. A lot of money can be made by one single deadly illness if the medications needed are patented.

These patents allow companies to set the prices for needed medication at whatever highway robbery price they desire.

The daily pill to combat HIV was once priced at $750 dollars a pill until other pharmaceutical companies came to the rescue and began offering patients the same type of medication for $1 dollar a pill, effectively saving and extending lives immeasurably.

Longer Life Span

The CDC statistics on increased life span for those diagnosed with HIV show that they are a viable consumer for life insurance products.

Maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle and getting quality treatment offer nearly as long a life expectancy as those without HIV.

Increased Access to Better Information About HIV

A lot of fear about living with an HIV diagnosis has been alleviated through public education. The internet and smart phones have done much to curb the stigma that has surrounded this disease since first coming on the scene.

It has become an accepted fact that a certain segment of the population will have it at this point, but that it is not an automatic death sentence.

Increased social acceptance has pushed insurance companies to feel more inclined to offer life insurance coverage.

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How Does An Insurance Company Calculate Risk?

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An insurance company, much like any other industry, has to make sure that they stay financially viable in order to stay afloat.

Life insurance risk has to assessed using all available tools in regards to using already existing data for all sorts of demographics.

What they need to know is the likelihood that an early payout will happen for any individual they have insured. Statistics are gathered from professionals called actuaries. Information that is looked at can be:

  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Hobbies
  • Current health
  • Health history
  • Gender
  • Habits (smoking)

Any items that are shown to reduce life expectancy for your age range and gender increase the risk an insurer takes in insuring your life.

There is a statistically higher chance that you will die sooner if you smoke cigarettes, work in a dangerous occupation and have a history of chronic illness.

How Does the Risk Set the Costs?

Actuaries use an aggregate mortality table to offer odds in percentages the risk of early life insurance payouts due to all of the factors taken into consideration. A healthy young person will pay a much lower rate than someone that has health problems in their 50’s.

This is because the young person in good health is thought to have a better chance of living long enough to bring the insurance company plenty of monthly premiums to stay strong and financially healthy.

Individuals with HIV are considered to be a risk to offer life insurance to, but these risks are calculated to reflect a premium amount that is higher than an average healthy person of the same age.

The exact amount will vary, depending on the company and personal health history of the individual requesting life insurance. The current status of the disease is always a factor in getting the best rates.

Ways to Reduce the Cost of Life Insurance With an HIV Diagnosis

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Life insurance is available for those with an HIV diagnosis, but you will need to expect to pay a higher rate, regardless of your current health. There are a few ways that you can bolster your case and get the most competitive rates out there.

A few of them are:

  • Shop around and see what the going rates are.
  • Bring current documentation that shows great health and proof that you are receiving consistent treatment.
  • Keep your weight in a healthy range.
  • Eliminate bad habits like smoking.
  • Avoid extreme sports and activities.
  • Keep a great driving record.
  • Get life insurance as soon as possible and maintain the policy.

It is also helpful if you can demonstrate that you have a terrific medical plan that allows you all of the coverage you need to stay healthy. You need to demonstrate that you are not a high risk when it comes to dealing with your health and sticking with a treatment plan for your illness.

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Are There Limits On Benefit Amounts?

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Time is one of the greatest determining factors when it comes to benefits limitations on life insurance for those with HIV. Many policies are limited for the first two years to an amount slightly above the premiums that were paid.

The benefits of term life insurance can be capped at $5,000, $10,000 or $25,000 dollars initially. There are a few companies that are willing to turn these policies into permanent ones if you stay in good health and live a requisite amount of years.

The problem with risk versus benefit payout is that the statistics for HIV are not very old. There is no real proven track record for how long the general HIV population will live. It is still a relative guessing game, of sorts.

This makes it difficult for insurers to stick their necks out too far. It is much easier to get standard amounts of life insurance through an employer than it is as an individual.

The best options are often checking with the same company you already have health insurance with.

Can Someone With HIV Get Whole Life Insurance Products?

It is possible to get all types of life insurance products with HIV, but much will depend on how well your health is and history of conditions related to the HIV infection.

It is hard for anyone with chronic bad health to get insured and whole life products will require medical documentation.

The good news is that current research is showing that people have the ability to live relatively long and healthy lives with HIV.

Most insurance companies have gone from placing HIV as a restricted condition to one of increased manageable risk.

As detection, treatment and life expectancy improves, the wider the life insurance selections will be.

If you are wanting whole life products it is best to let the agent know and see how an initial policy can be converted later, or find out what particular hoops you may have to jump through in order to get where you want with coverage.

Continued trends in healthier living, improved medical care and early detection has made it possible to live much longer with an HIV diagnosis.

Longer life spans have given way to life insurance companies taking a renewed look at increasing business by offering policies to those facing this type of illness.

Contact a life insurance specialist today and see if you can get the coverage you and your family need.

Don’t forget to use our free comparison tool below and start comparing life insurance rates today!