Combatting stigma: introducing travel insurance where people don’t have to automatically declare their HIV status
Emerald Life, the award-winning insurance provider, launches a UK first – the only travel insurance with no requirement to answer questions on HIV status or medication or to disclose HIV as a pre-existing medical condition if a customer is on stable anti-viral medicine and their viral load is undetectable – and at no extra cost.
Steve Wardlaw, Chairman of Emerald Life, said “Emerald is very proud to introduce this revolutionary, game-changing travel insurance. The insurance industry and the UK as a whole need to wake up and become more familiar with the recent advances in HIV treatment and the fact that there should be no extra premium charged in the many cases.
“People living with HIV can suffer high levels of alienation that can stop them from taking basic precautions like travel insurance when they go abroad. Everyone should be able to insure themselves with a respectful customer journey, without fear of stigma or discrimination.”
Many, the insurance industry included, don’t understand the fact that treatment advances have been significant in the past decade. People living with HIV and on stable medication can have the same life expectancy as the general population.
Emerald’s launch is supported by the Terrence Higgins Trust which is at the forefront of the fight against HIV and improving the UK’s sexual health.
Ian Green, CEO of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said:
“People who are living with HIV and who are on effective medication can expect to live lives that are as long and healthy as anyone else. Therefore, there should be zero need for an individual with an undetectable viral load to disclose their status when taking out travel insurance. We applaud this move from Emerald Life, which removes the stigma that surrounds HIV, and will no doubt encourage more people who are undetectable and living with HIV to take out travel insurance without feeling judged or discriminated against.”
The results from Stigma Index UK show two-thirds of the 1,576 participants felt positive overall about their life and in control of their health, but in the past year around half reported feeling shame, guilt or self-blame in relation to their HIV status and one in five had felt suicidal. These feelings are more likely to affect people recently diagnosed with HIV.
At launch in 2016, Emerald Life was one of the first insurance providers not to unfairly increase travel insurance premiums simply because a person was HIV+, irrespective of their current health. Most insurance companies no longer increase premiums because of HIV status, but it is still a ‘pre-existing medical condition’ that needs to be declared. Some specialist insurers still automatically charge more as a ‘loading’ for customers living with HIV, which is unfair and simply does not reflect the current medical situation.
The stigma attached to an HIV+ diagnosis is still prevalent, which means that many HIV+ people are simply not buying cover. Emerald has done away with the need to answer any questions or declare one’s HIV status where there is no increased medical risk. It’s time for the financial sector as a whole to catch up with recent medical advances and learn to respect and understand their customers who are living with HIV.
Case studies available on request.
Notes to Editors
1.0 Emerald Life is an insurance provider focused on addressing the needs of under-represented groups across the financial services sector – women, the LGBT community, non-traditional families and single people. As well as being the first full-service insurance provider for the LGBT community, it was awarded Ethical Financial Services Provider of the Year in 2016, supports a number of grassroots organisations committed to addressing inequality, and recently has advised trade bodies including the ABI on BAME issues within insurance. More information can be found at www.emeraldlife.co.uk.
2.0 More information about the Terrence Higgins Trust can be found at www.tht.org.uk. Terrence Higgins Trust is the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, offering support, information and advice services for those living with HIV and affected by HIV or poor sexual health. Their vision is a world where people with HIV live healthy lives free from prejudice and discrimination, and good sexual health is a right and reality for all.
3.0 For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org 07808 167868