Depression & Life Insurance

Getting affordable life insurance with a history of mental illness or depression is a complex process. Most people know that insurance companies look into their physical health including their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight. But insurance companies are also interested in your mental health as well, and that includes checking for a history of depression when evaluating your life insurance application.

Since major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States we thought it was a good time to have a conversation about how depression impacts your life insurance.

A few facts about depression:

  1. Depression impacts an estimated 15.7 million adults age 18 or over in the USA
  2. The World Health Organization estimates that over 350 million people are impacted globally.
  3. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide


Depression and Life Insurance Rates

Your life insurance prices will be determined by a number of factors, most importantly your age, your health class rating, and the severity of your depression.

If you’ve been turned down for life insurance due to depression in the past, that could impact any new applications you submit. Getting denied life insurance because of depression is more likely than you think—but only candidates with severe depression, recent hospitalization, co-occurring mental health issues or chronic diseases are likely to be declined—the applicants that represent the highest risk of suicide and/or death due to another related illness.

Since all life insurance rates are determined by a thorough underwriting process where the insurance company determines your level of risk, issues related to your depression will arise during this process.

Some of those issues include:

  1. What type/classification of depression you have? (major depressive disorder, dysthymia, etc)
  2. When did you first experience depression or when was your first episode of depression?
  3. When do you most recently experience symptoms of depression and what treatment did you seek?
  4. What treatment protocol have you pursued? Therapy? Medication?
  5. Are you experiencing any side-effects from the depression treatments?
  6. Have you ever been hospitalized due to depression?
    Do you have suicidal tendencies or thoughts? Have you ever attempted to commit suicide?
Varying Degrees of Depression

In many ways depression is a subjective experience—meaning it’s hard to quantify. As you worked with your therapist and doctor to find a treatment protocol they’ve likely noted the particular type of depression you have and it’s severity.

This is important!

Your health classification and subsequent rating depends on the severity of your depression. Here’s a look at the broad spectrum of scenarios and how they might impact your policy premium.

Mild Depression Cases

Mild depression usually results from a life event or is considered “situational depression.” This frequently occurs after the loss of a loved one, the ending of a long term relationship (divorce), or a major career or financial set back.

If you have a mild case of depression that lasts only a few months you may qualify for a standard rate class. If the depression has passed, you could even qualify for a “preferred” rate class—of course that depends on your other lifestyle choices like your weight and whether or not you use tobacco or frequently consume alcohol as well.

Bipolar Disorder and Depression

Bipolar disorder, frequently called manic depression, will impact your life insurance rates depending on your other lifestyle choices and your ability to effectively treat bipolar disorder. Depending on your age and general health you could still secure a “standard” health classification even with bipolar disorder.

If the bipolar disorder is severe, or you have repeat bouts of depression, it could result in a decline or postponement. You may want to consider prequalification instead of applying for life insurance immediately.

Moderate Depression and Life Insurance

If you suffer from “moderate depression” that impacts your daily life and lasts for more than four months you can still likely receive a “standard” health classification and secure an affordable life insurance policy. In some cases, you may have to pay a flat extra fee on each $1,000 of life insurance you secure–so if you purchase a policy with $500,000 in coverage that’s a $1,500 surcharge.

Deep Depression, Recurrent Depression, and Severe Bipolar Disorder

If you suffer from repeat bouts of deep depression and are under professional treatment or hospitalized you may have to postpone your insurance application—or it may get declined. However, if you can show that you are currently healthy and that the treatment protocol has improved your condition you may be able to secure coverage from the right life insurance company—one that specializes in helping people who have suffered from depression.

If you’ve been hospitalized due to depression or bi-polar disorder you’re insurance application will most likely get declined. You should work with an insurance broker that’s familiar with depression and life insurance issues to formulate a plan to get life insurance once you are healthy and released from the hospital.

3 Things You Should Know Before Applying for Life Insurance

To get the best rates possible you should prepare before applying for life insurance with depression. Here’s three things you can do today that will get you a head start in getting the best insurance policy and best rates possible.

  1. Obtain and review all of your medical records, including your doctor’s notes.
  2. Prepare a summary of your experience, treatment protocol, lifestyle adjustments and how you’ve changed or improved.
  3. Review all of the medication you’re currently taking, have a list handy and know the doses and frequency of consumption.

Big Lou® has helped thousands of people with depression get the right life insurance coverage at an affordable price. Give us a call today and we can help you too.

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