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Insurance 101

How mental health can impact life insurance

Insurance 101

How mental health can impact life insurance

Learn if you can receive life insurance if you have a mental illness.

On Dec 31st, 2021, we passed into the third year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. From constant breaking news, to various levels of shutdowns and viral mutations, the strain on communities, businesses, and industries has not only been physical, but mental as well. For context, it is estimated that 26% of adults aged 18 years and older, nearly 1 in 4 Americans, suffer from some diagnosable mental illness in a given year. Mental health issues are not fringe issues, they are part of the everyday life of millions of people. And just like people, the severity and symptoms are diverse.

As such, your access to a life insurance policy can be just as varied, depending on the illness, the insurer, the severity of the symptoms, and a number of other factors. If you’re unsure if you can receive life insurance while having a mental illness, this is the resource for you.

  1. Which mental health disorders can have an affect on life insurance?
  2. How mental health can affect life insurance
  3. Can I get life insurance if I have a mental illness?

Which mental health disorders can have an effect on life insurance?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness defines mental illness as a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, behavior or mood. Below is a list of mental health illnesses that are recognized by the NAMI. Not every single disorder affects life insurance in the same way. As stated in our blog post on underwriting, it’s important to be transparent with your insurer about your needs and situation.

Some mental health disorders that may affect the life insurance underwriting process include:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline personality disorders
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorders
  • Psychosis
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Schizophrenia

How mental health can affect life insurance

Mental health affects the body, just as physical health affects your mental and emotional well-being. Disorders such as anxiety and depression can have adverse effects on the body, and more severe disorders, such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive, and eating disorders, can have more immediate negative impact.

Untreated anxiety, for example, can result in physical reactions such as headaches and insomnia to issues such as raised blood pressure and digestive issues. Adverse mental health can have negative results on your quality of life as you get older, putting certain people at higher risks of harm or death. These are what underwriters look for when they look into your mental and physical status.

And specifically, they look for any high-risk activities or behaviors, whether they be physical or mental. Because life insurance policies are contracts between you and the insurer, they want to have a complete picture before entering into an agreement. Depending on what they find, you may face higher premiums than applicants without diagnosable disorders, though it’s not certain. Underwriters typically check into things like:

  • When you were diagnosed
  • The severity of the illness or disorder
  • If you are taking any medications and what kind
  • If you were hospitalized within the last 12 months
  • Frequency of episodes
  • Whether or not your daily life is affected
  • Current treatment plans

Can I get life insurance if I have a mental illness?

The answer is yes.

We’re not trying to discourage you. Life insurance underwriters take a holistic approach to the process, not just looking at one area over another. Your mental health status is taken into account along with things like your age, your physical health, lifestyle, etc. Mental health is just one part of the overall picture used to determine the appropriate amount of coverage, or if you are eligible for coverage.

Ultimately, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your insurer if you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness. And there’s no shame in having a mental disorder either. Being knowledgeable about your situation means that you’re one step closer to getting help and maybe even starting the path towards mitigation techniques, skills, and even healing. We’re all on our own path.

The opinions we expressed in this post are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations.
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