COVID-19 Drives Record Life Insurance Payouts in 2020

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$90.4 Billion

That’s the record amount life insurance companies paid to beneficiaries of life insurance policies in 2020, according to a new report—likely due to increased deaths from COVID-19.

The amount is up 15.4% from 2019, representing the largest year-to-year increase since the 1918 influenza epidemic, the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) said Thursday in the report. In 1918, payments soared by 40.9%.

"In a year that was taxing for everyone, life insurance benefits provided families with the means to endure financially after the loss of a loved one,” said Andrew Melnyk, ACLI chief economist, in a statement. 

The outsized numbers show the toll the pandemic has taken on people. Not only were payments at a record high, but more people bought life insurance

Total life insurance coverage reached $20.4 trillion last year, ACLI said, after a record $3.3 trillion in coverage was bought and a total of 43.1 million new life insurance policies were purchased.

“COVID-19 has made people more aware of the importance of life insurance,” Melnyk said.

Cumulative COVID-19 deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the end of 2020 were 361,430, according to the CDC.

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