Video makes baseless claim about vaccinated Frenchman’s insurance coverage

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COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in trials and real-world conditions. Yet an online video baselessly claims that a French life insurer refused to pay benefits to a man who died after receiving the vaccine because the insurer considered it “a medical experiment”. He also falsely claims that the same thing happened in the United States

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Four COVID-19 vaccines administered in the United States have been cleared or approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration following extensive testing, as we have previously written. (For more information, see SciCheck’s articles on Pfizer/BioNTech, Modern, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax vaccines.)

Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were the first vaccines to receive the green light in the United States, receiving emergency use authorization in December 2020 and full FDA approval in August 2021 and January 2022, respectively. two vaccines use modified messenger RNAor mRNA, which instruct cells to make spike proteins that will trigger an immune response.

Although the process from development to approval was quicker than usual for a variety of reasons, including previous investment and research in mRNA technology, the scientists said safety was not compromised. The safety of vaccines has been proven not only in clinical trials, but in real conditions.

There have been more than 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in the United States, and serious adverse events have been very rare. Most people experience minor side effects, such as temporary pain at the injection site, fatigue or muscle aches, or no side effects at all.

U.S. insurance companies do not consider vaccines experimental and have not withheld payments to beneficiaries of policyholders who died after receiving the vaccine, as we wrote.

But one video shared on instagram claims that a French insurance company refused to pay life insurance benefits to the beneficiaries of an “elderly and wealthy” man who died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine because the insurer considered the vaccine ” medical experience”.

The video was produced by America’s Frontline Doctors, a group that spread false information on COVID-19 since 2020. It first appeared on March 14, 2022within the framework of “Front line flashvideo series, which carries the tagline “The real story of fake news in 120 seconds or less.”

Dr. Peterson Stone, a dermatologist and narrator of the video, says a French judge ruled the man’s death a suicide because he knew the vaccine was risky and had ‘voluntarily chosen’ to get it . As he speaks, a headline appears on the screen that reads, “France: Court rules COVID vaccine-related death a suicide.”

The article on the French case presented in the video appeared in the Athens News on January 14, citing the Unser Mitteleuropa website as the source of the report. Netzpolitik.org, a German site on “digital freedom rights“, describe Unser Mitteleuropa as a “right-wing portal” that promotes misinformation about COVID-19.

In the video, Pierre goes on to say, “Suicides, as well as deaths from experimental drugs, are not covered by life insurance.” The American Life Insurance Council, Pierre claims, allows American companies to withhold payment if someone dies as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine.

But none of these claims have any basis. The video even gets the name of the American organization wrong; It’s the American Council of Life Insurersor ACLI.

In France, as in the United States, Vaccines against covid-19 have been approved.

“The rumor that insurance companies would refuse to pay life insurance if the deceased had been vaccinated against Covid-19 continues to circulate on social networks. This is false information,” Jean-Baptiste Mounier, spokesperson for the French Federation of Insurers, told us in a September 26 email.

Spanish fact-checking organization Maldita, which also debunked the video, reported that in French media there are no mention of incident alleged in the video.

The French Ministry of Justice does not have a file on the case and the ACLI has refuted the allegation, according Reuters. “The Ministry of Justice is not aware of this alleged claim regarding a French court supporting the insurance companies’ decision to refuse to pay life insurance due to a death from the COVID-19 vaccine,” said a ministry official told Reuters.

No U.S. insurer or court would consider a death related to a prescribed drug such as a vaccine to be “amount to suicide.” Glenn Kantor, a partner at Kantor & Kantor LLP, a Los Angeles-based law firm specializing in health, life and disability insurance cases, told us in a phone interview. That’s because people who get vaccinated are “trying to save their lives, not end them,” he said.

Basic life insurance policies in the United States generally pay for any death from any cause, with suicides usually covered after the person has held the policy for two years, Kantor also said.

The video is not the first to claim that insurers refused to pay when someone died after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Last year, the ACLI denied the claim that US insurers do not cover suspected vaccine-related deaths.

“The fact is, life insurers don’t consider whether or not an insured has received a COVID vaccine when deciding whether or not to pay a claim,” Paul Graham, senior vice president for policy development at ACLI, said in a May 21, 2021 statement that he emailed us at the time to a story about a claim on benefits denied in the United States

“Life insurance contracts are very clear about how policies work and what cause, if any, could lead to a denial of a benefit. A COVID-19 vaccine is not one of them,” Graham said.

And insurance regulators in the states of Louisiana, New York and Texas have all issued statements refuting the claims, according Reuters.

Frontline US doctors could not be reached to comment on the baseless claims in the video.

Correction, September 29: We updated this article to correct the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the United States.


Editor’s note: SciCheck COVID-19/Vaccination Project is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control on the editorial decisions of FactCheck.org, and the opinions expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation. The goal of the project is to increase exposure to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines, while reducing the impact of misinformation.

Sources

Hale Spencer, Saranac. “The posts distort data to falsely claim that Italy has reduced its death toll from COVID-19.FactCheck.org. November 18, 2021.

Mcdonald, Jessica. “Questions and answers about COVID-19 vaccines.” FactCheck.org. Updated July 16, 2021.

NetzPolitik.net. “Disinformation from Austria.” March 23, 2021.

American Council of Life Insurers. “American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI): Policyholders’ COVID-19 Vaccine Status Does Not Affect Life Insurance Claims.” Press release. September 16, 2021.

Corti, Delphine. “Es falso que la justice francesa eximió a “une compañía de seguros de cubrir la muerte de un vacunado por considerar un suicidio que se inyectara un experimental product.” Checkdo. February 1, 2022.

COVID-19[FEMININEVaccinemonitoring[FEMININESuividesvaccins9 vaccines approved in France. Accessed September 26, 2022.

Maldita. “No, la justicia francesa no ha eximido a” una compañía de seguros de cubrir la muerte de un vacunado” frente a la COVID-19 “por considerar un suicidio que se inyectara un producto experimental”. Maldita.es. January 21, 2022.

Reuters. “Fact Check – Life Insurance Not Denied Due to COVID-19 Vaccination.” March 31, 2022.

Gambardello, Joseph A. «Insurance companies provide coverage after vaccination against COVID-19.» FactCheck.org. May 25, 2021.

Kantor, Glenn. Partner at Kantor & Kantor LLP. Phone interview with FactCheck.org. September 21, 2022.

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