Nearly three-fourths (70%) of life insurance underwriters expect the number and severity of epidemics and pandemics to increase over the next five to 10 years, reveals a new survey by Munich Re US Life.

Out of 100 insurers, who participated in the survey, almost 46% believe influenza (bird flu, swine flu, etc.) is the potential pandemic disease that carries the most risk for the insured population, followed by a currently unknown disease (25%), Zika virus (14%), Ebola virus (8%) and SARS (7%).

Of the life insurance companies represented, approximately 73% take into account geographically localized risks in their medical underwriting process.

However, just one-quarter of the life insurance companies participated currently have guidelines in place that take Zika virus into consideration, despite recent outbreaks across parts of Central and South America.

Nearly 34% insurers said that more consumers are now seeking coverage against Ebola virus and Zika virus, while 64% responded that they have had no impact.

Approximately 56% participating companies believe that the occurrence of epidemics or pandemics will have no impact on the accessibility of life insurance.

Munich American Reassurance Company vice president and chief medical director Gina Guzman said: "As alarming as the outbreak in South and Central America may seem, Munich Re expects limited impact on life and health insurance."