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Life insurers are reassuring Canadians that getting the COVID-19 vaccination will not have an impact on their ability to get new coverage or maintain their existing benefits.

Online misinformation has gone viral through social-media platforms, claiming people who get the vaccine will not be able to qualify for life insurance, or that getting the vaccine will jeopardize any payouts on existing medical and life insurance if recipients were to die or have side effects because of the shot.

Several online posts incorrectly referred to the vaccination as an “experimental” procedure saying it would cause life insurance payouts “to be void” if someone died from the vaccine.

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The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association, which represents 99 per cent of Canadian life and health insurance business, says the claims are “incorrect and have no basis in fact whatsoever.”

“Getting the vaccine will not affect any insurance coverage,” the CLHIA said. “No one should be afraid and choose to not protect themselves from COVID-19 because they are worried about it affecting their benefits.”

Several of Canada’s largest insurers confirmed with The Globe and Mail that all government-approved vaccinations – which include Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – will not have an impact on insurance policies.

Norm Leblond, Sun Life Financial Inc.’s chief underwriter and claims risk officer, said it is important for Canadians to know there have been no changes to the company’s policies owing to COVID-19 or the vaccine.

“COVID-19 – or any viral infection and its related vaccine, for that – would not impact the payment of a claim under the terms of a clients contract,” Mr. Leblond said.

Canada Life also took steps to reassure clients in a memo stating “when a COVID-19 vaccine has been given by an authorized health professional, side-effects or complications from the vaccine would not limit someone’s eligibility for life, health or disability benefits.”

Manulife is taking it one step further. The insurer is rewarding its group benefit and individual insurance customers for receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.

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“As a life insurance company we are trying to keep Canadians healthy, so there is very little question that the number one thing all of us can do to protect our own health, and also the health of all those around us, would be to get vaccinated,” said Mike Doughty, president and chief executive officer of Manulife Canada.

Through Manulife’s Vitality program, members will now receive 400 “vitality points” for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The incentive program first launched in Canada in 2016, allowing Manulife customers to collect points for healthy eating habits and daily exercise, as well as receiving yearly flu vaccinations and examinations such as a colonoscopy or a mammogram. (In comparison, 400 points is equal to the points rewarded for 40 light workouts).

Members can cash points for gift cards or qualify for discounted premiums on their individual insurance.

Mr. Doughty says he hopes the program sends a signal to the country that Manulife “believes everyone should be going out and getting vaccinated.”

While Manulife may be one of the first companies in Canada to incentivize individuals to get vaccinated, businesses across the United States have been eager to offer free swag to help push vaccination rates higher.

North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme donuts took to Twitter to announce its “sweet support” of the vaccine by offering one free donut every day for a year to any individual who received the vaccination. Other companies have offered discount alcoholic drinks, arcade tokens, premium seating at restaurants, and free movie popcorn for people who get vaccinated.

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