Transgender Life Insurance | Money

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That life insurance is difficult to obtain for transgender people should probably come as no surprise, given the long-standing importance of applicants’ birth sex in insurer coverage decisions. But Americans are increasingly able to get coverage regardless of their gender identity, provided they have the patience to navigate the process.

“The industry as a whole is changing when it comes to providing life insurance to transgender people,” says Trent Landes, Director of Life Insurance Operations responsible for overseeing underwriting, claims and of customer service at Fidelity Life.

Transgender people don’t pay more for life insurance, all other things being equal, but quote comparisons take a bit more work, as there is no industry standard for writing insurance. fonts for this population. Gender-affirming surgery also doesn’t preclude purchasing a policy, although it can complicate when coverage can begin.

According to a Gallup poll conducted this year, approximately 1.4 million American adults are transgender, which represents about 0.6% of the American population. Here’s how the life insurance industry handles coverage for these people, as well as buying advice if you or someone you know is transgender.

The inconsistency in the definition of transgender

Whether an insurer considers your gender to be male or female matters a lot to what you pay to insure your life. Indeed, life expectancy based on sex is a key determinant in setting premiums for both term and permanent life insurance policies.

“All other things being equal, women’s life insurance rates are lower than men’s rates,” says Mark Maurer, president and CEO of LLIS, an insurance company in Tampa, Florida. For example, LIMRA says the median monthly premiums for an amount of $ 500,000, 20- a one-year policy for a healthy 40-year-old would be $ 39.02 for a male and $ 32.42 for a woman – a price difference of over $ 1,500 over the term of the policy.

Although a growing number of life insurance companies are writing policies for these people, the industry is still working out some of the more basic issues, such as the categorization of life insurance policy applicants. according to their gender identity or the sex assigned to them at birth.

“Every business has their own set of guidelines for how they’re going to treat it. It’s not a completely blanket decision, ”says Maurer, adding that when he researched life insurance quotes on behalf of a transgender client, the answers he got were everywhere.

The need for evidence of gender identity

Typically, those who apply for insurance under a sex that does not match the sex assigned to them at birth must prove that they have received medical treatment as part of a gender transition. This evidence may include proof of having had gender affirming surgery or plans for such a procedure. Transgender people may also undergo one or more gender-affirming hormone treatments, which additionally provide a medical indication of their identity.

Psychiatric or psychological treatment may also be relevant. Transgender people have higher rates of mental health problems: A recent comprehensive review of the medical literature found that transgender and gender non-conforming people “are exposed to a variety of social stressors, including stigma, discrimination and prejudice that contribute to mental health problems. “

These problems can include gender dysphoria, a sense of unease caused by a mismatch between biological sex and gender identity which can be so intense that it “leads to depression and anxiety and has a detrimental impact. on everyday life, ”according to the UK’s National Health. A service.

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Transgender medical coverage and issues

Despite the relative inexperience of insurers in drafting policies for transgender applicants, medical treatments for gender identity do not by themselves hamper eligibility for insurance, say our insurance experts.

According to Christopher Cook, senior vice president and underwriting manager at Crump Life Insurance Services, the next gender-affirming surgery is not viewed any differently from, say, planning for a joint replacement or a heart bypass surgery. “There are levels of mortality with any type of surgery involving general anesthesia,” says Cook.

Typically, life insurance companies will not write a policy for a new client needing major surgery, regardless of gender or medical history. Maurer advises considering the planned surgical schedule before you even start shopping for a policy.

Long-lasting gender-affirming hormone therapy is also not the break-up that people might imagine, Maurer says. Yes, insurance companies review the medications claimants take regularly, but that’s true for anyone whose doctor prescribes these hormones. For example, a transgender man taking testosterone to assert his gender is not viewed any differently from a cisgender man taking testosterone because his body is not making enough.

The same goes for mental health treatments linked to gender identity, which should (or not) affect eligibility in the same way as for cisgender applicants, according to Maurer. For example, he says, the problems triggered by gender dysphoria are no less well received than other psychiatric disorders. “Realistically, [insurers] don’t buy them any differently than anyone else with depression, ”says Maurer.

Insurers take a mental health history into account during a claimant’s health assessment, but psychiatric diagnoses will generally not prevent anyone from obtaining life insurance. People with a documented history of severe depression (for example) might not be able to achieve the most favorable rate class, but they will not be excluded. Additionally, a medical history that reflects adherence to a treatment plan and stability or improvement can help alleviate any negative effects that conditions such as depression or anxiety might have.

Life insurance tips for transgender people

All of the traditional steps in buying life insurance don’t make sense to transgender buyers. For example, using online quote aggregation tools that simply ask for your gender without specifics won’t yield precise answers, Maurer says.

Instead, initially hiring an insurance broker or financial advisor to help them navigate policy prices and terms may make particular sense for transgender people seeking life insurance, according to Cook. . “Financial services professionals will really understand what an individual needs analysis is,” he says.

More and more professionals are specializing in financial advice to LGBTQ + clients, particularly in life insurance. A recent Money cover article on money and the LGBTQ + community describes, as examples, LetsMakeaPlan.org, where approximately 1,200 professionals have self-selected LGBTQ + as a customer goal, and Be Intentional Financial, which describes itself as “a financial planning firm specializing in working with transgender and queer individuals and families.”

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