Lies, Damn Lies and Social Media Posts: Life Insurance Payouts Unaffected by Covid Vaccination

Lies, Damn Lies and Social Media Posts: Life Insurance Payouts Unaffected by Covid Vaccination

Some crazy ideas are out there today. Let’s clear up one of them:

Those Covid jabs inflicted by reputable healthcare workers are not experimental – all have been vetted. The vaccines administered in the US are reliably trustworthy. If you were worried, take a breath and relax.

Social media posts of the scandalous variety have been barking this lie: life insurance companies won’t pay death benefits if you die from Covid vaccine complications. If my mother were here to portray my view, she’d say: “This is a load of bull… [delicate Irish pause; dramatic eye roll].”

Consider the easily verifiable facts: the Food and Drug Administration has procedures in place to rapidly introduce new medicines following a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack – CBRN in their parlance – on the US. Homeland Security, the Defense Department and Health and Human Services all play a role in activating these special rules. Pretty hairy, but good to know.

The threat must involve national security, but it needn’t be posed by an enemy nation; a wandering killer virus is sufficient. Once deep bureaucratic hurdles are negotiated, the FDA can be authorized to allow unapproved medicines for use to protect the public’s health from a life-threatening agent. This can only happen when no alternative therapies are available, as in our current circumstances.

Understand this: these unapproved medicines are not untested or experimental. The Covid vaccines used today have completed three rounds of clinical trials. The FDA rules them safe and effective, bearing in mind that all vaccines – all drugs, even OTC, really – carry potential side effects, and in rare cases can be lethal. That’s our world.

In normal times, drug approval is infamously slow. I welcome the care taken, but the delay is maddening if you’re suffering, perhaps from a rare condition, or in my case, from blood pressure meds that made me woozy (they solved that problem a few years back). When a threat to national survival arises, though, the rules can be stretched and approval accelerated.

Exposing the population to untested medicine would be madness, gasoline to douse a fire. Who, then, is propagating these nonsensical posts? Of course the death benefit pays out when you, forgive me, die! Who is stirring us up? Don’t they know that people, even stoic miseries like me, are jittery as jazzed-up jumping beans?

I guess we’re easy targets for a certain kind of worrying mind – scoundrels who live to cause trouble. They’re ever with us.

Three years back, a 15-year old Brit hacked US intelligence ops, paling the faces of four-star bigwigs before they thought to offer him a Pentagon job. The crap-happy trend runs deeper for some, their addled brains bubbling under Alcoa fedoras cladding extra-thick skulls. These boys ‘n gals will believe anything, as long as it’s wrong. True national security threats do lurk: fomenting dissention and chaos is a fine way to disarm the adversary. The US calls this – when we do it ourselves, I mean – a ‘nonviolent intervention operation’. It sure beats a drone strike, if you’re the recipient. Chaos has its place.

Cue the true: on March 12, the American Council of Life Insurers issued a press release: “A social media post appears to be behind the spread of entirely false information, suggesting a COVID-19 vaccine could be a factor a life insurer considers in the claims-paying process. The fact is that life insurers do not consider whether or not a policyholder has received a COVID vaccine when deciding whether to pay a claim.”

Death benefits may only be denied on conditions clearly defined in the policy. “A vaccine for COVID-19 is not one of them,” says the release, stamping ACLI’s foot. “Policyholders should rest assured that nothing has changed in the claims-paying process as a result of COVID-19 vaccinations.”

It would all seem silly, yet phony news travels fast. Insurance agents report being swamped with calls. I’m glad to hear it: we forever counsel clients to contact their agents – estate, advisory, retirement, insurance – when anything troubles their sleep. There’s nothing so soothing as hearing the straight dope right from the horse’s mouth.

I didn’t take this digital guff seriously until I noticed the responses of ACLI and reputable insurers. Sensible customers were legitimately confused. But why would anyone believe such obvious baloney?

There’s a lot of it these days. People are falling for the oldest scams on record: UFOs, ancient astronauts; the Romans could levitate stone; Nikola Tesla used purring cats to generate electricity – the usual suspects and more. What makes people so credulous these days?

My pal Jerry, a Hong Kong financial advisor, believes in Bigfoot. If you could see me shirtless at the beach, you’d be forgiven for thinking Sasquatch is real, yet he isn’t – I swear. There are no dinosaurs in fjords or lochs, NASA isn’t hiding Klingon remains, and there won’t be another ice age for a while yet. But somewhere out there, I’ll wager, someone ain’t so sure.

Maybe the problem is news overload. The real and the ridiculous swim in tandem in the great steaming digital cauldron, and you can fool anybody some of the time. Right now, the stresses of the pandemic are clearly in play. In the circumstances, losing life coverage is the mother of legitimate concerns. Yet there’s good news. An old US Army expression from World War 2 runs: when in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout. People didn’t do that: instead, they rang up the experts. Do maddening times breed good sense?

You won’t find citizens more solid and imperturbable – stoic, I’d say – than the average insurance agent. They’ve been around the block, know forest from trees and can tell a biped ape from some rotund joker in a monkey suit. Next time you read anything nutty – coming soon to a website near you – ask a real agent or two, then sleep well.

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