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Worried about long COVID? Here’s why you should check your life insurance


It's possible to make a successful claim for COVID-19 if the disease stops you from working.

Lauren Frahamer got COVID for the first time in December 2021.

Having felt "pretty rotten" for a fortnight, the former arts worker found her symptoms only worsened after the festive break.

In fact, returning to work in the New Year was a huge struggle.

"I'd finish so many shifts at work crying because I was just a wreck," explained Frahamer, who was an assistant stage manager on Hamilton.

"I kept feeling like I was going to faint and [I was] just feeling exhausted.

"When I tried to push through, my body would just stop me."

Work and recovery: A hard balancing act

A few months later, the 26-year-old was forced to quit her job.

Recalling her difficulties with long COVID, Melbourne-based Frahamer added:

"I couldn't deal with the pressure of needing to go in and balancing that with giving myself enough time to rest and recover – which was the only advice I was given at the time to help with my symptoms."

Frahamer's situation was made worse 3 months later after her partner was laid off.

"At that point, I wasn't feeling financially secure," she said.

Income protection insurance offers hope

Frahamer held an income protection policy with NEOS for 9 months before she could no longer work.

Profile photo of Lauren Frahamer

However, due to limited information online, she was unaware that a successful claim for long COVID was possible.

She even considered ditching her cover to save money.

"I didn't think I'd qualify, especially not with symptoms that were similar to chronic fatigue.

"I was looking at that as a benchmark for a diagnosis. There's a 6-month mark for that to be chronic.

"I didn't even think to try and put a claim through."

Frahamer continued, "It was 8 or 9 months from getting COVID to putting in my claim. I was putting it off for ages."

We looked at 6 income protection policies on Finder's database – no insurer mentioned "long COVID" or "COVID" in its latest product disclosure statements (PDS).

But in the confusing world of insurance, something not listed in a PDS doesn't necessarily mean it's excluded – as this travel insurance example shows.

After calling on support from her insurance adviser at Skye Wealth, Frahamer was able to lodge a successful claim with NEOS.

The claims process took less than a day.

Frahamer's paperwork included having to contact her previous employer to get her resignation note as well as GP documentation, which she got via a telehealth appointment.

Overall, Frahamer found the process to be "pain-free and supportive", adding it was less hassle than a Centrelink claim.

Her only regret was not lodging a claim earlier, which would have saved "months of financial stress".

ABS figures published last month show how the number of people dying "with" COVID has increased throughout the pandemic.

Overall, 11,077 deaths are considered to be "due to" COVID (as of 30 November 2022).

Of these, 151 – around 1.3% – were due to the long-term effects of the disease.

Frahamer has managed her illness without having to go to the hospital.

But her recovery from long COVID is ongoing, with some "ups and downs" today.

"I was put on anti-anxiety medication to help with the fatigue," explained Frahamer. "I feel like I would have been in tears if I wasn't on that."

"I can focus on health rather than finances"

Frahamer is now able to work full-time most weeks. She can still claim insurance for periods when she is too ill to work.

"The income protection insurance means I don't have pressure to go in when I'm not feeling well, which is a big part of my recovery as soon as my body is signalling to me that I need to."

She encouraged others with long COVID to take things "a day at a time".

She added: "The biggest thing for me has been that sense of security and freedom to be able to make decisions based on my health rather than my finances."

Reflecting on how she felt after her claim was first accepted, Frahamer said:

"I was so excited when the successful claim came through. When I got home that day, my partner and I opened a bottle of champagne. It just took so much pressure off.

"We're very into celebrating any win at the moment."

Hear more about Frahamer's story here.

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