March 22, 2021

Taking COVID-19 vaccine does not affect whether life insurance pays death benefits

The Associated Press checks out some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and…

The Associated Press checks out some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. This one is bogus, even though it was shared widely on social media. Here are the facts:

CLAIM: If you receive the COVID-19 vaccine and die, insurance companies will not pay out on the policy because the vaccine is experimental.

THE FACTS: Life insurance policies have not changed because of the COVID-19 vaccination and getting the shot will not impact whether a policy pays out in the event of death, according to the American Council of Life Insurers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization to three COVID-19 vaccines after finding them safe and effective following three phases of clinical trials involving thousands of people.

Posts making false claims about death benefits were shared across Twitter, Facebook and TikTok. “I just spoke with my insurance company, because I was curious, that if I got the vaccine for COVID and passed away from complications, would my life insurance policy be valid. Well. Guess what?? They confirmed they would not pay out my policy, because the vaccine is experimental. Wake up!!!,” one Facebook post said.

Another TikTok video encouraged social media users to contact their life insurance company to ask about how the vaccine would affect their policies.

Since the posts began surfacing last week, the American Council of Life Insurers has received a flood of calls asking about the false claim. The ACLI released a news release debunking the erroneous information, explaining that the vaccine does not change whether a policyholder receives their benefit.

Life insurance policies outline when death benefits are paid and the payments are made regardless of the cause of death, said Jan Graeber, a senior health actuary at ACLI.

“Life insurance is pretty straight forward,” she said. “It pays from death.”

Experts say getting the shot could have an impact, just not the one mentioned in the post. Getting the vaccine would help to limit any life insurance premium increases related to COVID-19, said W. Bruce Vogel, an associate professor in the Division of Health Outcomes and Implementation Science at the University of Florida.

“Only if the vaccine itself increased mortality would you expect it to increase life insurance premiums, and there is no evidence of that so far,” Vogel said in an email. “The fact that the vaccine is being given so widely suggests at least an implicit finding by the FDA that the potential rewards outweigh the risks.”