Genworth Redefines ‘Healthy’: Pre-existing Conditions Not Always Barrier to Life Insurance
Annual study suggests doubts about eligibility leave many Americans uninsured
Richmond, Va., Oct. 17, 2012 — Too many Americans have taken themselves out of the market for life insurance as a result of outdated assumptions about pre-existing conditions and insurability. That is one of the conclusions drawn by Genworth life insurance experts from a review of the 2012 Genworth LifeJacketSM Study data.
“We need to redefine the word ‘healthy’ in the context of life insurance eligibility,” said Janet Deskins, Genworth senior vice president for product development. “For adults with conditions such as anxiety, asthma, depression, high cholesterol and sleep apnea, life insurance can still be an affordable part of their overall financial plan, especially if they are actively taking steps to manage their condition.”
Between 39% and 54% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 with common, self-reported pre-existing conditions hold no life insurance, with doubts over insurability leading many potential candidates to not even apply for coverage, according to the new study. However, medical advances and wellness programs have made it possible for many Americans to better manage chronic conditions, while the insurance industry has developed increasingly sophisticated underwriting practices to provide preferred rates to those that have well-managed conditions such as asthma, anxiety and high blood pressure.
“As part of Genworth’s commitment to helping Americans live longer, healthier lives, we want to raise awareness of the connection between how they manage their health and their ability to protect and help their families achieve their dreams,” said Dr. Marjorie Keymer, vice president, medical director at Genworth. “They need to know that by having well-controlled medical conditions, they may very well be eligible for preferred rates on life insurance.”
Genworth’s LifeJacketSM study found that many people with seven self-reported conditions – anxiety, asthma, depression, high cholesterol, hypertension, weight problems and sleep apnea – have no life insurance. Uninsured sufferers of anxiety, asthma and depression accounted for more than half of all those who reported the condition (53%, 54% and 53%, respectively), while 40% of individuals with hypertension, 44% of those with weight problems and 42% of those with sleep apnea responded that they owned no life insurance. A substantial portion of Americans living with high cholesterol (39%) also remains uninsured.
“For each of the conditions we studied, sizable populations reported that they hold no life insurance,” added Pam Nelson, Genworth vice president for Customer Insights. “As an industry, we need to do a better job of communicating that having a well managed health condition is not necessarily a barrier to obtaining life insurance. It is clear from this year’s research that there is a potential population of American adults that could become life insurance consumers if they knew more about life insurance eligibility, understood the value of wellness programs and felt more comfortable about sharing their health information with their agents and advisors.”
Total Number of Uninsured Rises
According to the study, more than 118 million adults in the United States age 18 and above don’t have any life insurance coverage, more than half the adult population (52%). That compares with 2011, when 51% of U.S. adults were uninsured.
“Overall, we are seeing the continuation of a trend we witnessed in 2011: fewer Americans with life insurance and lower coverage amounts for those who are purchasing policies,” Deskins said. “In this environment, we need to redouble our efforts to close coverage gaps in what people actually need, and help consumers better understand their options.”
About Genworth’s 2012 LifeJacket Study
The LifeJacket Study of the uninsured in America was conducted in collaboration with independent third party research firms, J&K Solutions and Ruf Strategic Solutions. The supporting survey data for this longitudinal, multi-modal study was collected over the course of 15 months and administered by telephone, online and mail. More than 25,000 adults (ages 18+) across the United States were surveyed, providing a highly stable and reliable data source. This allowed for estimates of the percent of uninsured U.S. adult population within +/- 5% with 95% confidence.
About Genworth Financial
Genworth Financial, Inc. (NYSE: GNW) is a leading Fortune 500 insurance holding company dedicated to helping people secure their financial lives, families and futures. Genworth has leadership positions in offerings that assist consumers in protecting themselves, investing for the future and planning for retirement — including life insurance, long term care insurance, financial protection coverages, and independent advisor-based wealth management — and mortgage insurance that helps consumers achieve home ownership while assisting lenders in managing their risk and capital.
Genworth has approximately 6,500 employees and operates through three divisions: Insurance and Wealth Management, which includes U.S. Life Insurance, Wealth Management and International Protection segments; Global Mortgage Insurance, which includes U.S. and International Mortgage Insurance segments; and the Corporate and Runoff division. Its products and services are offered through financial intermediaries, advisors, independent distributors and sales specialists. Genworth Financial, Inc., which traces its roots back to 1871, became a public company in 2004 and is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. For more information, visit genworth.com. From time to time, Genworth Financial, Inc. releases important information via postings on its corporate website. Accordingly, investors and other interested parties are encouraged to enroll to receive automatic email alerts and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds regarding new postings. Enrollment information is found under the “Investors” section of genworth.com.