Do Life Insurance Companies Discriminate Against Mental Health Sufferers?

If you suffer from a mental illness or have a history of mental health issues your life insurance will most likely be affected. If you’ve pursued treatment for a mental illness or sought professional therapy for mental health issues it’s likely that you may receive a different health rating class or surcharge on your life insurance policy.

That’s why it’s important to do your homework before applying for life insurance. This article will provide you with everything you need to know about obtaining life insurance if you suffer from a mental illness, or take prescription medication for a mental health condition.

Big Lou® is just like you—he’s on meds too! Big Lou® has been through divorce, depression, and all the twists and turns of life. That’s why he’s able to lend a hand to those in need and help them through the complicated life insurance process.

Mental Health Issues and Life Insurance: What You Need to Know

Since mental health issues and mental illnesses may increase your risk of dying, life insurance companies take that into account when deciding on whether to accept or reject your life insurance application and in determining your life insurance premium.

There’s several factors that will influence whether or not an insurance company decides to charge you more or limit the scope of your life policy:

When you were diagnosed with the mental health issue or mental illness?

If you were recently diagnosed an underwriter may want to see how things play out. If you were diagnosed many years ago and have proven that you have your condition under control they may be more lenient.

The type of mental illness

Different forms of mental illness will represent different levels of risk to insurance underwriters. For instance, schizophrenia is more risky than ADHD.

The mental illness treatment protocol

People who consume prescription medication to control their mental illness may be seen as higher risk than those who only seek psychotherapy or more non-invasive treatment protocols.

The severity of the mental illness

If you’ve been hospitalized for a long duration of time the insurance carrier will be more risk-averse than someone who has only experiences a fleeting episode of mental illness.

Your personal history of mental illness (how long you’ve been depressed, anxious, etc.)

Again the duration of your condition combined with the other factors mentioned here will be taken into consideration when an underwriting determines your health rating class.

How frequently you visit your doctor or therapist (EG. how proactive you are in managing the problem)

If you can prove that you are proactively treating your illness underwriters may be more willing to grant a better health class rating.

The carrier’s risk appetite and other factors will influence whether or not your policy premium is adversely affected

Some carriers have designed their businesses to accommodate mentally ill clients—other carriers avoid them at all costs—you need to carefully select which carriers you apply to—and remember that your application history is shared with other carriers.

Whether or not you’ve ever been hospitalized due to mental health issues

If you’ve been hospitalized due to mental illness you should clearly communicate this to your life insurance agent so he or she can help you formulate a plan and present your case to underwriters.

Whether or not you take any prescription medications to treat the mental health issue

If you take medications to help control your mental illness it’s important that you have a full list of the medications, the dosage and frequency, and how long you’ve taken the medications.

If you have a history of unemployment, job instability, or financial troubles

Be up front with your broker about job instability or financial troubles as these could be negatively perceived by insurance underwriters if not addresses before you submit your life insurance application.

Life Insurance and Mental Health Coverage

In general coverage is available for most mental health issues. So if you suffer from any of the issues below we can help. Keep in mind that each mental health case is unique and you may not receive the same life insurance rating as a friend that shares your mental health condition. Insurance companies are more concerned with the degree and duration of the condition and the severity of the condition. There’s a huge range in severity of illness like depression from fully functioning, people that suffer mild depression to severe depression that leads to hospitalization. There is no “typical case” so your mileage may vary.

We’ve helped people with various mental health issues get life insurance. Here’s a few of the common mental health issues we’re familiar with:

  • ADHD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Schizophrenia

If you’ve been diagnosed with one of these issues and are seeking life insurance, the biggest concern an insurance underwriter might have is which medications you’re currently taking. Here’s a list of commonly prescribed medications for mental health issues:

  • Zoloft
  • Lithium
  • Xanax
  • Prozac

Life Insurance and Mental Health Questions

Everyone that applies for life insurance must go through the same application process. That means completing a life insurance application (hopefully with the aid of your insurance broker), answering questions about your family’s history of illness (including mental health issues), and getting a medical exam and blood test.

Even if you’ve never suffered from mental health issues you’ll have to undergo the same process. If a history of mental health issues is discovered during the underwriting process, a representative of the insurance carrier may reach out with some specific questions about your mental health.

Some of the mental health related questions an insurance underwriter might ask are:

  1. When did you first experience mental health symptoms and when were you first diagnoses?
  2. How long has it been since you last experienced symptoms related to a mental illness or mental health?
  3. Do you currently or did you ever take prescription medications to relieve the symptoms of your mental health issues? If so, which drugs and what was the treatment protocol?
  4. Have you ever been hospitalized due to your mental health or a mental illness?
  5. Does your mental health condition affect your daily life and/or abilities? How?
  6. Do you have any other medical issues?
  7. Do you, or have you ever been suicidal?

Life Insurance and Your Mental Health Records

When you apply for insurance the insurance company will request copies of your complete medical history.

Most people don’t know that there’s a centralized database that insurance carriers share information with. This database is the called the Medical Information Bureau (MIB). This information includes any of the data included with your life insurance application…And it could include information about your mental health issues.

Why is this important?

Sometimes we have clients that try to skirt the rules and don’t disclose that they have mental health issues. When this is discovered during the underwriting process, it’s a roadblock that we have to deal with, and commonly results in an outright denial or a poor health class rating. We don’t want either one of those things to happen, so it’s best if you help us help you and disclose any and all information related to your mental health issues.

There’s many life insurance companies that will issue life insurance to the mentally ill or people who suffer from mental health issues. Be sure to call Big Lou® and we’ll shop your policy with over 45 of the top life insurance carriers to get your the best rate.

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