Isle insurer has
policies to cover HIV

The agency opened in 1996
to help clients find gay-friendly insurance

By Russ Lynch

A Honolulu insurance agency has begun selling life insurance policies designed for people who are HIV positive.

"The life insurance industry has finally come to realize that HIV is becoming a treatable chronic illness rather than a terminal disease," said Dr. Robby Jenkins, president of the agency, Pride Insurance & Financial Services Inc.

The issuance of life policies is a result of better medical therapy for the HIV-infected, he said.

Jenkins, who practiced medicine in Los Angeles for 10 years as an HIV and AIDS specialist, opened the agency in June 1996 to help gay and lesbian clients find gay-friendly insurance companies and make investments and plan for retirement.

He found a dozen insurance companies willing to provide life, property and casualty insurance equally to both members of a same-sex partnership. Now the office also has specific policies for those with HIV.

Burial expenses, credit card bills and other debts can be a burden on friends and family and the insurance policy can relieve the infected person of the stress, Jenkins said.

Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Co. of Glenview, Ill., which specializes in policies for persons with high-risk medical conditions, does the insuring. Clients can buy full-life coverage in face amounts from as low as $10,000 up to $250,000.

Gardiner Gilless, a spokesman for Pride Insurance, said the coverage is more expensive than the more normal life coverage but is "reasonable."

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