Britain’s insurance industry body removes ‘stigmatising’ guidance on HIV

New guidance from the leading industry body of insurance providers in Britain has removed policies on HIV that were called “stigmatising and discriminatory” by a leading charity.

On Tuesday, the Association of British Insurers opted to amend their policy regarding Critical Illness Cover (CIC).

CIC is a type of policy that typically provides a lump sum to a person if they are diagnosed with one of a list of serious illnesses.

Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, the guidance stated that a claim could only be made for a diagnosis of HIV if it had been acquired through a blood transfusion, an assault or through work in specific circumstances.

A HIV diagnosis would also essentially render the insurance invalid, as the diagnosis would exclude someone from claiming on any other illnesses originally covered by the insurance.

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The National AIDS Trust had previously criticised the policy, calling it “a moralising and discriminatory attempt to frame some people as being ‘innocent victims’ of HIV and, by implication, others as not.”

The charity highlighted the discriminatory nature of the policy in a 2017 report which criticised the Association of British Insurers for stigmatising the long-term condition.

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Following consultations with the charity, the industry body amended their guidance which covers over 250 insurance companies in Britain.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust, welcomed the decision.

Gold stated: “We welcome the new guidance on critical illness cover published by the ABI today. The previous wording on HIV included in the guidance was judgemental, stigmatising and discriminatory.

“No other critical illness was treated in such a manner, and we are grateful that the ABI have listened to our feedback and made this vital and long-awaited change.”

Gold then called on insurance providers to implement the guidance in their policies quickly.

She added: “It is now crucial that insurers review their CIC policies as soon as possible to ensure they do not contain discriminatory wording on HIV.

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“The new guidance, which does not assume HIV always to be a critical illness, reflects the considerable progress that has been made in prognosis for those living with HIV over the last thirty years, whilst still allowing insurers the flexibility to provide cover for HIV if they wish.”

“With the removal of HIV as an exclusion, policyholders who have acquired HIV after purchasing their CIC policy should be able to make a claim if they are diagnosed with any other illness listed in their policy.”

The National AIDS Trust then highlighted that Critical Illness Cover was still unavailable to those who had been diagnosed with HIV prior to applying for the policy – despite advances in the treatment and management of the condition – and called on insurers to further amend their policies.