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FactCheck: No, insurance policies aren't 'null and void' if you receive a Covid-19 vaccine

The claims about insurance cover were included in a video on Dolores Cahill’s Facebook page.

Image: Shutterstock/Vitali Michkou

A VIDEO CIRCULATING online posted to Dolores Cahill’s Facebook page has claimed that peoples’ insurance policies are “null and void” if they receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

This is false, as are a number of other claims made in the video about drivers being technically uninsured if they wear a face mask while driving. 

Claims and conspiracy theories about insurance policies and Covid-19 vaccines have been spreading across other countries in recent days, as well as Ireland. 

Let’s take a look at the specific claims made in the video, which features controversial UCD professor Dolores Cahill and two other people. 

The Claim

The claim was made in a discussion between Dolores Cahill, Rolf Kane and Alisa Keane in a video posted on Cahill’s Facebook page on 10 May. 

This video, which is more than an hour long, has been viewed over 25,000 times and shared around 1,100 times. These claims feature in the last ten minutes of the video. 

A video clip including the insurance claims was posted on another Facebook user’s page on 9 May and viewed around 1,900 times.

Rolf Kane said “a lot of insurance companies” were putting a “legal notice” on their websites to say insurance policies won’t cover people after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine “because it’s not approved”.

“And they’re saying even if you want to upgrade your policy, they will not offer that upgrade,” he claimed. Kane said this applies to “all insurances”. 

Kane is described by Cahill as a “constitutional advocate”. He has appeared in previous videos with the professor.

“In simple terms, basically, if you take the vaccine, or the gene therapy to give it the correct name – we’ll go with vaccine for the general public -  your insurance policy is null and void of immediate effect. Now, this is the insurance company saying this now,” he continued. 

‘Gene therapy’ refers to a technique that modifies a person’s genes to treat or cure disease. The Covid-19 vaccines do not use this technique. They instead show your immune system how to fight the coronavirus.

The Journal debunked a similar claim in the past.

Kane said: “That would mean that your insurance, your insurance for driving a car, a vehicle, your house insurance and… on to the one that would really shock people here tonight, is that your mortgage insurance.

“If someone had a family mortgage insurance, like a couple, right? And they have a big mortgage of two or three hundred thousand, and if that family spouse, God forbid, unfortunately died from the vaccine.

“Of course, nationally the policy kicks in and your mortgage is paid off, but seemingly from what is being put up now from insurance companies themselves, that policy would be null and void of immediate effect.”

Dolores Cahill asked him to clarify that “all of the SARS-CoV-2 mRNA injections, gene therapy or vaccines, they have emergency use authorisation but they are not approved as such? So all of the injections are part of a clinical trial?”

The Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines use messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, and the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines use viral vector technology. All four vaccines are approved for use in Ireland. 

Kane further claimed that insurance companies have issued these legal notices on their websites to say “if you’re driving a car, a vehicle, taxed, insured and NCT’d, all legally compliant, if you’re wearing a mask your insurance is null and void”.

He said that under the 1961 Road Traffic Act this would be “a criminal offence because you would be technically driving without insurance which could be, technically speaking, up to two years in jail”. 

Kane then references the false idea that wearing a face mask causes people to breathe in their own carbon dioxide. This was debunked by The Journal and many other international factchecking outlets last year. 

He repeatedly says that insurance companies are the ones making this claim. 

“People are going in, getting vaccines, wearing masks and it is having a serious legal impact on them and a financial impact on them which could be detrimental in the future,” he claimed. 

He said this is going from “anecdotal evidence that people have told me and from seeing myself” but advised people to do their own research and contact their insurance companies. 

Kane also said that the impact for mortgage insurance would be “detrimental” for “thousands and thousands of people” as it could result in them “losing the roof over their heads and their families.”

Let’s take a further look at all of these claims. 

The evidence 

To start, The Journal found no evidence of these kinds of claims on insurance company websites.

This claim has been shared previously in other countries like the UK and Canada. It has been shared by a few Irish Twitter accounts as far back as March, when the rumour in Canada was first debunked by Reuters.

A post shared online said a Canadian insurance company updated its life insurance policies to negatively affect those who received a Covid-19 vaccine. This turned out to be false. 

Manulife, a Canadian insurance company, now has a section on its website to clarify that getting a Covid-19 vaccine “in no way negatively impacts your current insurance policies”. 

The Journal contacted a number of Irish insurance companies and industry representative bodies.

The consensus is that getting any Covid-19 vaccine does not impact your insurance policy – whether it’s health, motor or life insurance. 

First of all, the representative body for the industry, Insurance Ireland, refuted these claims. 

A spokesperson said: “Receiving a Covid-19 vaccination will not invalidate any insurance policy be it motor, life or private health insurance. 

Insurance Ireland is not aware of any insurer within our membership which has, or intends to, withdraw or limit cover on the basis of receiving a Covid-19 vaccination or wearing a face mask – any claim will be dealt through normal assessment criteria.

“Additionally, the vaccines authorised for use in the European Union are recommended for use by Government and HSE, and it is a matter of Government policy that the use of vaccines is encouraged, a position which insurers fully support.”

A spokesperson for the private health insurance regulator, the Health Insurance Authority (HIA), further confirmed that people who receive a Covid-19 vaccine are still covered by their insurers. 

They said: “None of the vaccines that are approved by the Government/HSE for administering to the public would be considered a “clinical trial”.

“All approved vaccines are important public health programmes.”

Health

A VHI spokesperson said: “Getting a Covid-19 vaccine does not impact a person’s insurance premium.

“Vhi will pay for medically necessary treatment in the event of a complication arising from the administration of the Covid-19 vaccine.”

A spokesperson for Laya Healthcare said: “Availing of a Covid-19 vaccination will not invalidate or affect the terms of laya healthcare policies.

“Our members will not have to make any changes to their cover or see their premiums negatively impacted as a result of receiving an approved Covid-19 vaccine.”

Regarding laya life insurance cover, once a member has answered the medical questions truthfully and accurately when they took out a policy, they will be covered for Covid-19.

“With laya life and mortgage protection cover, If a member dies as a result of Covid-19 or a complication associated with it including side effects after taking the vaccine, we will pay out as normal.”

The insurer further said in the event of a person requiring treatment from side effects of Covid-19 or a Covid-19 vaccine, people will be covered “subject to their scheme and level of cover”. 

A spokesperson for Irish Life Health said that getting a Covid-19 vaccine does not impact a person’s insurance policy.

The spokesperson added: “There are four approved vaccines in Ireland and they are being rolled out in accordance with the Government/HSE plan.

“If a customer were to suffer side effects of an approved vaccine which required hospitalisation, then the customer’s costs would be covered subject to normal terms and conditions.

“However, if the costs are related to treatment for side effects of an unauthorised vaccine, this would fall under our ‘Clinical Trial’ exclusion and would not be covered.”

There are a number of other Covid-19 vaccines used outside Ireland – such as Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinovac – that have not been authorised for use in the EU or Ireland. 

Other insurance policies

A spokesperson for Aviva said the receipt of a Covid-19 vaccination by a policy holder “has no impact on their policy or cover”. 

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In relation to the claim that wearing a face mask while driving a vehicle leaves a driver uninsured, the spokesperson said: “This is completely incorrect, the fact that a person is wearing a surgical mask (or similar face covering) in no way causes a person’s motor insurance policy to become ”null and void”.”

As for the mortgage and life insurance cover, the spokesperson added: “We can confirm that Aviva Mortgage Protection cover and its other life assurance cover continue to apply in the unlikely event that the life assured dies as a result of a negative reaction to a Covid-19 vaccination.

This is irrespective of the type of vaccine involved, once that vaccine has been authorised for use in Ireland and administered in accordance with that authorisation.

Four Covid-19 vaccines have so far been approved for use in Ireland. We’ll get into further detail about the type of authorisation used for these vaccines later in the piece. 

A spokesperson for the AA said the claims are “absolutely false” and that getting a Covid-19 vaccine “will in no way impact any car or van insurance policy purchased with the AA”. 

“If you get the vaccine your cover will continue as normal, there’s no need to make any changes or updates to your policy,” the spokesperson said. 

“Similarly, wearing a face mask covering the nose and mouth does not, in any way, affect your insurance cover while driving.”

Liberty Insurance said: “We can confirm that these claims are false.”

A spokesperson for AXA said the company has received “similar queries from concerned customers” about this issue. 

“We have advised that this is fake news circulating in social media channels concerning Covid-19 and its impact on customers insurance policies,” the spokesperson said. 

AXA can confirm we will not withdraw or limit cover on a customer’s insurance policy the basis of receiving a Covid-19 vaccination or wearing a face mask whilst driving.

A spokesperson for Allianz said the insurer “will not be withdrawing or limiting motor insurance cover to policyholders on the basis of receiving a Covid-19 vaccination and/or wearing a face mask while driving”.

“Any claims will be dealt with through normal assessment criteria,” the spokesperson said.  

Vaccine authorisation

Cahill and Kane repeatedly say in the video that Covid-19 vaccines have not actually been approved for use in Ireland, and that is why they are not covered by insurance companies. 

This is misleading. The vaccines have been approved for use in the European Union (and thereby Ireland) under conditional marketing authorisation.

This method is used for medicines that address unmet medical needs of patients on the basis of “less comprehensive data than normally required”.

Although this means they are approved faster than other vaccines, the process guarantees that the medicine meets rigorous standards for safety, efficacy and quality and that comprehensive data is still provided. 

Essentially, the vaccines are approved once enough data is available to show the benefits outweigh the risks and that there are safeguards and controls in place after the authorisation is issued. 

This type of authorisation is used in public health emergencies, such as a pandemic. 

It can also be combined with a rolling review of data during the development of the vaccine, as has been done for the available vaccines, to further speed up the evaluation process. 

Although it’s a sped-up process, it still means the vaccine is authorised for use in the European Union, and further approved for use in Ireland. 

Verdict 

The claims about insurance policies being “null and void” after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, and additional claims that wearing a face mask while driving leaves a driver uninsured, are both FALSE.

As per our guide, this means: The claim is inaccurate. 

The Journal’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie

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