Written by Kim Wilhelm
Last Updated 26 Mar 2023
Even though mental illness is becoming more accepted in society, many are embarrassed to admit their diagnosis or talk about it. While you may feel alone among your friends, family, and society, please know you are not alone.
Here are some facts on mental health conditions from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
50% of mental illness presents itself by age 14
75% by age 24
Every year, 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health condition
1 in 20 experience a severe mental illness
Mental health conditions are not the result of just one event, though one event can trigger an episode. There are many factors that research shows can cause mental illness, with more awareness happening every day.
There are so many things that can cause mental illness, and it doesn’t mean you’re broken or did anything wrong:
Stressful job or home
Though there is more awareness today around mental health than ever before, there is still much work to be done.
If you have a mental illness and haven’t yet purchased life insurance, these figures may be comforting, but concerning. Can you get life insurance if you have a history of mental health issues?
Can I Get Life Insurance with History of Mental Health Issues?
Yes, you can get life insurance with a mental health history. But what you can qualify for depends on the company’s underwriting guidelines.
When you apply for life insurance the traditional way, you have to answer a lot of health questions, including ones about your mental health. Mental illness is considered a pre-existing condition – just like other health issues – if you’ve been diagnosed, treated or prescribed medication by a medical professional.
Life Insurance Application Questions and Process
Questions vary by carrier, but expect to answer questions like:
What was your diagnosis?
How long ago were you diagnosed with a mental health condition?
How severe is your mental illness?
Have you been hospitalized for your mental health issues in the last year?
How frequent are your episodes and when did you last have one?
Are your ability to perform tasks of daily living affected by your condition?
What is your current treatment plan and are you following it?
With the standard life insurance process, you have to fill out a detailed application, take part in a phone interview, and complete a medical exam, including blood and urine tests. Your driving history and prescription history are also checked. Your doctors will also have to fill out a physician's statement confirming the answers you submitted on your application.
It can be an invasive process. And while many companies recognize how common mental health conditions are, most underwriting guidelines haven’t caught up to the times yet.
Seniors, Mental Health, and Life Insurance
Seniors can remember the days when mental health was never talked about. Everyone was expected to sweep their problems under the rug and pretend they didn’t exist. You were expected to be strong and put one foot in front of the other.
While the CDC estimates around 20% of seniors 55 and older have a mental health issue, that number is probably grossly underestimated.
Most seniors only require a small amount of life insurance once they reach retirement. If you don’t need a lot of coverage – $40,000 or less – then you are in the best position to get approved for life insurance.
At Final Expense Direct, we work with mostly seniors to offer final expense insurance, which is often called funeral insurance or burial insurance. Many of the carriers we work with don’t require any health questions or medical exam to get coverage. Call us today to find out how we can get you covered before we hang up the phone.
How Does Mental Health Affect Life Insurance?
Life insurance underwriting is all about risk. The riskier your health and lifestyle is, the more you’ll pay for life insurance. If the company thinks you’re too risky to insure, they’ll deny you coverage.
Not all mental health conditions are looked at the same way. For instance, a severe condition of anxiety or depression can disqualify you from life insurance. Any mental illness with an increased risk of suicide will make the cost more expensive, or have you disqualified for life insurance coverage if you go the traditional route.
The Most Common Mental Health Disorders
Though there are many mental health disorders, these are the most commonly recognized:
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
Eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia are the most common)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
When you have a mental health disorder, it’s important to choose your life insurance company wisely. It will give you the greatest chance of getting approved at an affordable rate.
Final Expense Direct is an independent broker agency for life insurance. This means we partner with many life insurance companies to offer different types of life insurance for all age groups.
Many of the companies we work with don’t have an invasive application process. There may be a few health questions to answer, but mental illness is not always one of them. And we also have companies that don’t ask questions at all and don’t require a medical exam.
We do the shopping for you, so you don’t have to. Just call us and answer a few questions about your health. Our agents will help you choose the right company with the coverage you need at a price you can afford.
Will a Mental Illness Increase My Life Insurance Costs?
There is no guarantee that a mental illness will increase your life insurance costs, but it’s a strong possibility. If you answer a question on the application or during the interview about mental health, chances are it will affect your life insurance costs.
Insurance companies can see mental health records, prescriptions you’ve filled, and much more when making their decision to approve or deny you. This information is used to determine your risk or rating class. The classification will determine how much you pay for the life of the policy.
What if I Fail to Disclose a Mental Illness on My Life Insurance Application?
If you fail to disclose a mental illness on your life insurance application, a few things can happen.
First, you can be denied life insurance. If the company finds that you have a pre-existing condition of mental illness but lied about your mental health diagnosis, there are other consequences.
Lying on a life insurance application is insurance fraud. You should never lie to an insurance company, whether it’s for life insurance, auto, home, or any other type of life insurance.
Remember, companies can access your medical records to confirm your application and interview responses. If you lie, they will probably find out and deny you coverage or cancel your policy if it’s already been approved and issued.
If you fail to disclose or lie about your mental health diagnosis, it’s recorded in the Medical Information Bureau (MIB) database. This is where companies go to confirm medical information. If they see you lied previously, it will be hard – if not impossible – to get life insurance in the future.
There are also some important clauses to be aware of in all life insurance policies.
Life Insurance Clauses
There are two life insurance clauses that can impact your beneficiary after you die and they file a claim:
Suicide clause: Every life insurance policy has a suicide clause. If you die by suicide in the first two years of the policy, your beneficiary will not receive the death benefit. The insurer may choose to return the premiums paid, but that is at their own discretion.
Contestability clause: This clause is in place for the first two or three years of the policy. It allows the company to investigate the death claim to see if you misrepresented, lied, or failed to disclose anything on the application. If they find you did, they won’t pay your death benefit but may return the premiums paid.
As you can see, lying or failing to disclose a health condition can have serious consequences for your beneficiary. It’s not worth lying to an insurance company and potentially being charged with fraud if you’re still alive when they find out.
If you’re worried about getting approved for life insurance or being able to afford coverage, call us at Final Expense Direct. We can answer all your questions, learn about your health conditions, and help you find a company you can get approved for life insurance.There’s no need to worry about what a life insurance company will think of you. The more controlled your mental health disorder is by following your doctor’s treatment plan, the better. And you may not even have to disclose your mental health condition if you pick the right life insurance company.
Whatever you think final expense costs...
It's probably less.
No money down • No medical exam
What if I’m Denied Life Insurance Due to My Mental Health?
You may be here because you’ve been denied life insurance due to your mental health. Or, you have at least one diagnosed mental health condition and you’re worried about getting denied life insurance because of it.
When you apply for a standard life insurance policy, your health history – including mental health – is on full display. Depending on the company’s underwriting guidelines, your diagnosis, treatment protocol, and severity of illness could mean you’re denied coverage — even if you’re otherwise healthy.
The good thing about the companies Final Expense Direct work with is most don’t do full underwriting. Our agents know the underwriting guidelines for all the companies we partner with. When you call us, the agent will ask you health questions, including mental health questions.
If we have a company with full underwriting that will approve you despite your mental health issues, we’ll place you there to get you the cheapest rate for the most coverage.
But if not, you don’t need to worry. Most of the companies we work with do simplified or no underwriting at all.
Simplified issue life insurance doesn’t require a medical exam, but does ask a few health questions. The questions vary by company and many don’t have a question about mental health.
The other option is the most costly, but offers guaranteed coverage. Guaranteed issue life insurance doesn’t ask any health questions or require a medical exam. If you suffer from multiple health conditions or have a severe mental health condition that wouldn’t pass simplified underwriting, this may be your only option for life insurance coverage.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, know you are not alone. There are many other Americans like yourself. Whether you have anxiety, bipolar, depression, PTSD, or another condition, you can get approved for life insurance. Life insurance isn’t one size fits all, which is why it’s important to shop around. We know it’s overwhelming to shop for life insurance, which is why we handle the hard part for you. Call us at Final Expense Direct so we can help you find the best life insurance company for your health.