Having a mental illness can often be an uncomfortable subject for people to talk about, especially when someone is asking specific details about the illness and treatment. If you’re thinking about enrolling in a life insurance plan you’re also probably worried that your mental health issue will impact your coverage options. So what do you do if you have a mental illness and need life insurance but are worried about applying for coverage?
Understanding what insurers are looking for in your life insurance application
When applying for a life insurance policy, you may be surprised to learn that your mental health illness isn’t as much of an issue as you expected. What’s most important to life insurers is the risk level of issuing you life insurance coverage. In the case of mental illnesses, they’ll look at many different factors including the type of illness, the cause, treatment history, and how your illness is responding to treatment. For example, if you took depression medication for a period of time after going through a stressful event, the insurer may consider it a low risk. If you’re currently receiving ongoing treatment for a severe mental illness that isn’t improving, an insurer would likely see this as a high risk.
How does having a current or past mental illness impact your coverage options?
Having a mental illness can increase your cost of health insurance coverage, and in some cases prevent you from getting a medically underwritten plan. However, having a mental illness doesn’t guarantee your insurance coverage will cost more or that you will be declined coverage. It depends to a large degree on the insurance firm, the risk factors identified above and whether you are taking a proactive approach to managing your mental illness condition.
Can you get life insurance with anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are the number one mental health condition diagnosed in the U.S., affecting more than 40 million adults between the ages of 18 and 54. Most sufferers can obtain life insurance, but the type of policy you can get and the rates are affected by five criteria:
- Date of diagnosis. The longer you’ve had the disease, the higher your risk.
- Treatment type. What type of treatments are you currently receiving or have received in the past?
- Medications.The type, dosage and frequency of any anti-anxiety drugs you take.
- Hospitalizations. When, where, how long and how many times?
- Missed work. Have you missed work due to your anxiety?
Insurance carriers use these criteria to rate your anxiety as mild, moderate or severe, which determines the type of policy you can get and how much it will cost.
- Mild – coverage will likely be standard to rated.
- Moderate with no hospitalizations – probably standard to rated.
- Severe – rated or declined coverage.
Does insurance cover bipolar disorder?
Also known as manic depression, this mental illness causes extreme mood swings that can lead to risky behavior. Poorly controlled bipolar disorder can lead to increased risk of early death, causing some insurers to refuse coverage or charge a higher premium for insurance.
Fortunately, there is a growing pool of insurance brokers and underwriters who understand the disease and are willing to cover it – if you know what to do when applying for a policy.To obtain bipolar life insurance you should:
- Be receiving treatment, including taking appropriate medication.
- Release all medical records to the insurance company if they request it.
- Find an insurance broker who will advocate for you with an insurance underwriter.
- Be prepared to discuss personal details with the insurance agent.
- Demonstrate a history of effective treatment and compliance.
Having a history of suicide attempts, hospital admissions, substance abuse or other mental health problems will significantly reduce your chances of obtaining bipolar life insurance. So will being on disability for bipolar disorder and being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
Does insurance cover depression?
Being diagnosed with depression does not disqualify you from life insurance. However, if you suffer from major depression, it may cost more and include a clause that voids coverage if you take your own life. As with other mental health conditions, insurers will want to see a history of treatment that helps control the symptoms, which can include:
- Often feeling sad or hopeless
- Feeling guilty, worthless, anxious or empty
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent oversleeping
- Appetite changes, sudden weight gain or loss
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Physical symptoms such as back pain, digestive issues or headaches
- Thoughts of death or suicide
In addition to treatment compliance, many insurers also like to see a history of regular checkups, active lifestyle, eating healthy and maintaining an appropriate weight for your size. Every insurance carrier has their own approach to depression, so it helps to research a wide variety of companies to find the ones more lenient towards this illness.
Does prescription medicine affect rates?
It depends on what kind of medicine you’re taking. As discussed, insurers often look at it favorably if you’re taking medications as prescribed to treat a mental illness. On the other hand, the following situations will send up red flags for them:
- Taking pain killers and muscle relaxers, prescription marijuana, diabetic or HIV medications
- Failure to disclose your current and past prescription medication usage (Insurance companies can learn all about it by conducting a prescription database search, so it pays to be honest up front.)
- Taking multiple medications or inconsistent/poorly monitored usage
- Taking medications with many potentially serious side effects
These red flags don’t necessarily mean you can’t get coverage, but they will increase your risk factor, and can lead to higher premiums and more restrictive policies.
Finding affordable life insurance coverage
If you suffer from mental illness, keep two very important points in mind when applying for life insurance. One, some insurance carriers have a more educated and enlightened approach to mental illness than others. So it’s important to identify insurers who have the experience and expertise to provide the coverage you need. Two, seeking multiple quotes from different insurers will help you find the right policy at the right price.
IntelliQuote’s online quote form makes it easy to get instant free quotes from many top-rated insurers.