As the swine flu spreads its reach from Mexico to other parts of the globe, the question to ask for many of you is: “What impact will the swine flu have on the insurance industry?”

Dr. Steven Weisbart, who studies plagues, pandemics and terrorism for the Insurance Information Institute, says there is a precedent for spikes in life insurance purchases. After the 9/11 attack, applications for life insurance sales rose 6 percent the next quarter and 4 percent the following two quarters.

Weisbart says that even if the swine flu reached true pandemic proportions (which he doesn’t believe it will), such as the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic that killed two million people worldwide, the life insurance industry is well-positioned to handle an estimated $155 billion of payouts.

“There’s a safety net in the form of state insurance guaranty funds, and the insurance companies also have reinsurance,” Weisbart says. In fact, Weisbart adds that the payouts on reinsurance policies could actually strengthen some troubled companies.

At least one life insurance advisor, Fla.-based Morgan Moran, says he expects the fear factor of swine flu to cause a surge in life insurance sales. “People are worried about this flu and what might happen to their families if something should suddenly happen to them.”

Moran recommends that consumers choose a low-cost term life insurance, one that starts immediately. “That can bring peace of mind – today – to someone troubled over the swine flu.”