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Best life insurance for those with a mental health history
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Knowing that having a mental health history doesn't automatically disqualify you from life insurance may be helpful when researching insurance policies. To help you explore your options, Bankrate took a look at what conditions may affect your life insurance decisions and what to do if you are denied coverage. With the right knowledge, you may be able to find a policy that fits your needs.
What is the best life insurance for those with a mental health condition?
There are different types of life insurance, and some may be better options than others for those with mental health conditions. However, there are other factors that also play a significant role in determining your best choice for coverage — such as your budget and the length of time you need coverage for. Everyone's circumstances are different, so you may want to shop around before you settle on a policy type or carrier.
- Term life insurance: Term life insurance offers coverage for a set period, usually between five and 30 years. This type of coverage is generally cheaper than other types of life insurance, particularly if you are younger and generally healthy.
- Permanent life insurance: As the name implies, permanent life insurance is a type of life insurance that lasts your entire life as long as you pay the premiums. It is usually more expensive than term life insurance, so it might not be the best option for everyone. Permanent life insurance, such as whole life insurance or universal life insurance, offers a cash value component.
- Guaranteed issue life insurance: Guaranteed issue life insurance might be one of the best life insurance options for those with mental health conditions to consider. There is guaranteed approval and no medical exam to qualify. However, the available death benefits are typically capped around $25,000-$50,000, and this type is often more expensive than other life insurance policies.
- Group life insurance: Group life insurance is offered by employers through the workplace. These policies are often inexpensive and easy to obtain, and generally do not require any medical underwriting to qualify. While obtaining coverage is generally easier than with other policy types, the policy only remains active for as long as you maintain employment with your company.
What is considered a mental health condition in life insurance?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a mental health condition is one that “affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior or mood.” Those with a mental illness can oftentimes feel alone, yet one in 20 adults are diagnosed with serious mental illness annually. Although the mental health conditions considered by life insurance companies vary from carrier to carrier, if you have been diagnosed with any of the following mental health conditions, it may impact your premium and potentially your ability to purchase life insurance:
- Anxiety disorders
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
- Dissociative Disorders
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Schizoaffective Disorder
How does mental health impact life insurance?
When shopping for life insurance, both your mental and physical health will typically be evaluated. Depending on the carrier and type of life insurance policy, you may have to fill out a health questionnaire or participate in a medical exam. Some common questions you may see on a questionnaire include:
- When were you diagnosed with your mental health condition?
- What severity is your mental health diagnosis (mild to severe)?
- Have you been hospitalized for a mental health condition in the last 12 months?
- What is the frequency of your episodes and when was the last one?
- Do your symptoms affect your ability to perform daily living tasks?
- Do you currently have a treatment plan and are you following it?
Certain mental health conditions that have a higher likelihood of suicide, such as severe anxiety or depression, schizophrenia and substance abuse, may result in higher premiums than other mental illnesses, lower coverage limits available or even application denial.
Seeing a mental health professional may help increase your chances of being approved for life insurance at a better rate, especially if you are following the treatment plan, have not been hospitalized recently and have a consistent employment history.
What happens if I lie about my mental health diagnosis?
You should never lie about anything on the application, including a mental health diagnosis. Life insurance underwriters use databases like the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) to confirm the medical history information you supplied. If it is found you lied on the application, the underwriter will need to conduct an investigation to gather more information about the discrepancies found and it could lengthen the application process.
Most life policies, including term life insurance, have a two-year suicide clause. This clause is in place to prevent people from purchasing life insurance with the intent to commit suicide and have their family’s income protected.
Companies may also include a contestability clause for the first two or three years of the policy. This clause allows the company to investigate any death claim during that time for misrepresentation. If it finds you lied on the application, your beneficiary may not get the full death benefit you selected. They might get a reduced amount based on what your premiums would have qualified you for with accurate representation or they may only get the premiums paid into the policy up to your death.