November 21, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Regulator issues underwriting rules for life insurance for people with HIV

THE INSURANCE Commission (IC) has outlined underwriting guidelines for life insurance companies to assess risks of people who are positive or suspected of having the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

In a statement, Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa said the rules will allow life insurers to offer full underwritten life insurance for customers who are HIV-positive or are “perceived or suspected to be with HIV.”

“The issue on HIV requires a comprehensive approach in prevention, treatment and impact alleviation. Despite free anti-retro viral treatment, the lack of life insurance cover for persons with HIV continues to be a source of economic strain to them and their families. Thus, there is a need to provide insurance protection to these individuals,” Mr. Funa was quoted as saying.

Under the rules, insurance companies may give insurance coverage to a person with HIV if the applicant is undergoing “proper” medical treatment; has a favorable risk profile; and the results of the medical examinations are within normal limits.

For those who have been recently diagnosed as HIV positive, life firms can postpone the issuance of a life insurance policy for not more than one year from the start of the continuous Anti-Retro Viral Treatment (ART) to evaluate the treatment’s efficacy.

ART involves medication that treat and prevent the growth of HIV. The drug, however, does not cure the virus.

Mr. Funa said companies are not required to create new insurance policies for persons with HIV.

“Instead, special underwriting standards would be applied into the existing life insurance policies,” he added.

Under the IC guidelines, insurers may require applicants to voluntarily to undergo HIV testing, as provided for under Article III of the AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998. Deciding whether HIV testing is necessary will depend on parameters such as the age, occupation or lifestyle of the applicant.

An HIV-positive applicant must be reported to the Medical Information Database (MID), but also meet requirements of the Data Privacy Act of 2012. The MID is a database for life insurers, as part of their due diligence and risk assessment process.

The IC has tapped Home Office Life Underwriters Associations of the Philippines, the Philippine Society of Insurance Medicine, and the Philippine Life Insurance Associations-Medical Information Database in formulating the new regulatory guidelines.

Citing the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act of 1998, the IC said insurers should not shun a person “on the basis of his/her actual, perceived or suspected HIV status, as long as the person does not conceal or misrepresent.”

Citing data from the Department of Health, newly-diagnosed individuals with HIV grew to 22 persons a day in 2015 from one person a day in 2008.

By end-September 2015, there were 692 reported cases of HIV in the Philippines, while total casualties were at 1,309 from January 1984 to September 2015. -- JMDS