The impact of COVID-19 on your protection policy – Your questions answered
Bank of Ireland Life would like to reassure its customers that the COVID-19 pandemic does not adversely impact the rights customers already have under existing policies. We are receiving lots of enquiries and we thought it would be helpful to set out the position on some of the most common questions arising. We fully appreciate these are challenging times and you can be assured we will be supporting you through them to the very best of our ability.
COVID-19 and My Protection Policy
- 1. Does my existing policy cover COVID-19 or does COVID-19 impact my ability to claim under my existing policy?
The cover you had before COVID-19 won’t change as a result of COVID-19. The cover you have depends on the type of policy you have and the benefits you selected when you took the policy out. Here’s an overview of types of cover and the impact of COVID-19:
If you have cover for death on your policy and death occurs as a result of COVID-19, the death benefit will still be paid assuming any other conditions for payment of a death benefit are met. There is no exclusion in our policies for death arising from a disease such as COVID-19.
Specified/critical/serious illness cover
While it depends on the terms of the policy you hold (and we will be happy to check in any case), in general COVID-19 is not one of the serious illnesses covered by our policies which would result in a serious illness benefit being paid. What serious illnesses are covered will be clearly set out in your policy conditions and in some cases the severity level required before an amount is paid. While COVID-19 itself may not be covered, COVID-19 does not impact your ability to claim for serious illness benefit if you meet the definition of one or more of the serious illnesses that are covered by the policy.
Hospital cash benefits
If you have cover under your policy to protect you in the event you are hospitalised, then hospitalisation as a result of COVID-19 won’t prevent you from relying on that cover. Please do however refer to your policy conditions to understand what hospitals are covered.
If you have income protection benefit under your policy, COVID-19 won’t adversely impact that benefit. If you meet the definition of disability as set out in your policy conditions then your income protection benefit will be paid after any deferred period that applies. No new conditions will be imposed and payment will be made where a valid claim arises under the existing terms.
- 2. I am currently in the process of taking out a new policy. Do I need to declare if I have had COVID-19 symptoms, if I’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or if I am awaiting test results for COVID-19?
Yes. You need to answer the questions asked on the application form fully to enable us assess your application. The application form includes questions that require you to tell us about any medical conditions you have been diagnosed with, including COVID-19, and asks you to tell us if you have been referred for any tests or are awaiting the results of any tests, including tests for COVID-19.
You also need to tell us if you were referred for any tests, are awaiting any test results or were diagnosed after you submitted an application but before the policy has commenced, The application form also includes a question on recent medical history; you will need to tell us in this question if you’ve had any symptom or symptoms of Covid-19 in the last 3 months.
You do not need to tell us if your policy was already in force before you had COVID-19 symptoms, before you were referred for a COVID-19 test or before you received a COVID-19 test result.
- 3. If I have experienced COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19 does this mean I cannot get cover?
If you are applying to take out a policy and have tested positive for COVID-19,are awaiting test results for COVID-19 or have been referred for a test for COVID-19, a final decision on an application for cover will be postponed until you have either fully recovered and are back to normal activities for a period of time. If you are applying to take out a policy and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms then a final decision on your application for cover will be made once you have been symptom free for at least 1 month. When we assess an application for cover we of course take all medical details provided into account and not just any disclosures about COVID-19.
- 4. Are there any restrictions on travel to COVID-19 infected areas under my existing policy conditions?
While there are no restrictions enforced specifically for COVID-19, there may be some restrictions on the countries that cover will be extended to. This depends on the terms of the policy you have and New Ireland won’t be changing the terms of your existing policy. If travel restrictions don’t currently apply, that will continue to be the case. It is however important to check your policy to see if cover applies to certain countries only. These countries are often referred to as ‘approved territories’ in your policy conditions but this will depend on the policy conditions you have.
- 5. Have you now changed the types of questions being in your application forms?
We have now made a change to the questions we ask in our application forms which requires you to tell us about any COVID-19 symptoms you have had in the last 3 months. If you inform us that you have been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, we will defer your application for insurance cover until you are symptom free for 1 month. A decision on your application for insurance cover may also be postponed if you fall into an at risk group such as those as outlined by the HSE.
- 6. Am I eligible for a 3- month mortgage protection payment waiver?
The mortgage protection payment waiver is available for customers who meet the following criteria:
- You have a Mortgage Protection or Term Assurance policy that is assigned to a residential mortgage.
- You are currently paying your mortgage protection payment monthly by direct debit.
- You have been granted a mortgage payment break from your lender. We will require evidence of this.
- Your policy must be in force on or before the 1st of March 2020.
- 7. Is my Mortgage Protection policy unit linked or non-unit linked? How can I tell?
If your mortgage protection policy has a savings element or a fund value attached to it, then it’s classed as a unit-linked protection policy. The Annual Benefit Statement we send you each year will state if your policy has a fund value or not, it will show the number of units you own under your policy. If you have a unit linked (reviewable) protection policy this product offers flexibility so that, if necessary, you can reduce your monthly premiums, or take a premium holiday until you are back on your feet. There are a range of options potentially available and to make sure you understand which option might suit you best we have advisors available to work through these options with you. Please contact your financial Wealth Manager or advisor or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
If your policy does not have a fund value then it is classed as a non-unit linked policy. If you need more clarification on what type of policy you have, please email us on email@example.com and we will be happy to help. Please include your name, contact details and policy number with your query.
- 8. How do I apply for the 3-month mortgage protection payment waiver?
To request a payment waiver, please send an instruction signed by each policyholder and evidence of approval of your mortgage payment break from your bank by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The request must reference your Bank of Ireland Life policy number and should be received in Bank of Ireland Life no later than 10 working days prior to the next premium due date so we have time to action it before your next premium is due. Once you have been granted a payment waiver on your policy, the following 3 monthly payments will be waived. Once the 3 months have ended, your direct debits will then recommence automatically. Applications for payment waivers will remain open until Friday 17 July 2020.
Bank of Ireland Life reserve the right to with draw this offer at any time.
- 9. Can I make amendments to my mortgage protection policy while my premium break is in force?
No. Premiums will only be waived for existing policies and at their current level of cover i.e. we won’t allow any amendments on these policies which result in a premium increase to you.
- 10. Am I still covered under my policy when I am availing of this three month mortgage payment waiver?
Yes. You will still receive the same benefits and cover that you currently have on your policy when you are availing of the three month payment waiver.
- 11. What happens at the end of the 3 month payment waiver on my mortgage protection policy?
Your direct debit mandates will automatically restart after the 3 months is up and we will need you to confirm that you understand and are happy for this to happen. However, it’s important that you ensure that after this period is over that your policy continues to meet your needs in terms of level of cover and term as any changes to term or benefit may affect the premium you pay. It’s also important to note that the 3 months premiums will not be required to be repaid at a later date.
- 12. I receive an extended payment break on my mortgage will my 3 month mortgage protection payment waiver be extended?
No. It is important that you meet with an advisor after your 3 month mortgage protection payment waiver to ensure their policy continues to meet your needs.
- 13. What if I have a term assurance policy but it is not assigned to a mortgage. What can you offer me instead?
If you have a Term Assurance policy that is not assigned to a mortgage, you can request to have 3 months of your protection payments deferred until you are back on your feet. During this time you will still receive the same great benefits and cover you currently have on your policy while deferring your premium for 3 months.
- 14. Does this apply to my protection policy that is assigned to other loans than a mortgage?
No, but you can avail of the 30 day grace period when you remain on cover.
- 15. Can my Wealth Manager request this on my behalf?
Yes, they send in a request for a payment waiver on your behalf. However, they will need to provide us with the following:
- A request for a payment waiver from you.
- A statement that you would like to avail of this financial support due to COVID-19
- Your consent that your direct debit mandate can continue to collect premiums after the 3 months.
- Evidence from your lender that you have been granted a mortgage payment break.
Bank of Ireland Life will accept this from your Wealth Manager – they simply need to attach an email from you with the above information and send it to email@example.com.
- 16. Am I eligible for a 3 month payment deferral on my term assurance policy?
The 3 month payment deferral is available for customers who currently have a Term Assurance policy and who currently pay their protection premiums monthly by direct debit. However, if you have a Term Assurance policy that is not paid monthly by direct debit, you can contact us and we will be happy to discuss options available for you. Applications for premium deferrals will remain open until Friday 17 July 2020. New Ireland Assurance reserve the right to withdraw this offer at any time.
- 17. What happens at the end of the 3-month payment deferral period?
It is important to note that in order for you to remain on cover and to keep your vital protection policy in place, you will be required to pay the 3 months deferred payments at your next payment due date, after the 3 month deferral period is up. This means that when your direct debits automatically restart after the 3 month deferral period, 4 months payments will be collected on the payment due date instead of 1. It is important that you consider your options based on your own financial circumstances before deciding if this is the best option for you. If you don’t repay the deferred payments after the 3 month period is up, it may result in you losing your vital protection cover. However, we would be happy to help you make that decision and find the best option for you and your protection needs. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively you can contact your Wealth Manager who will be happy to help.
- 18. The 3 month payment deferral option does not suit my needs right now. What can you offer me instead?
If the 3 month deferral option does not suit your needs at this time, we have other flexible options available for you. For example, if you have a Term Assurance policy, which is not assigned to a mortgage, you have 30 days after your premiums become unpaid, during which time you will still remain on cover. If premiums continue to remain unpaid after this time, you will no longer be on cover but you will have a further 60 days to reinstate your policy without having to provide up to date medical information. If you have a Life Choice protection policy with us, your policy has the flexibility to allow you to reduce your level of cover and benefits to suit your current needs. This may help reduce your policy payments while still keeping an essential level of cover in place. We would be happy to arrange an advice meeting with one of our financial advisors to discuss your options in more detail. Simply contact us on email@example.com where we will be happy to arrange this for you or alternatively you can contact your Wealth Manager instead.