Depression, Suicide, and Life Insurance

Getting life insurance with depression can be tough, but it’s not impossible. For example, applicants with depression can qualify for rates as high as Better than Standard. Even applicants with a history of suicide ideation can qualify for rates as high as Standard with a small extra premium.

To get a feel for the possibilities, please review these life insurance quotes received by people with anxiety and depression. This data base, containing real quotes received by real people, is very useful as an educational guide. And you can increase your chances of finding affordable life insurance by following some simple consumer advice.

Know the basic underwriting issues

To start, consumers should understand what basic information is required by the life underwriter. The underwriter needs to know when the condition was first diagnosed; the dates of the first and most recent episodes; and the various modes of treatment employed. If the medication regimen has been adjusted over time – as is often the case – then we need to know that.

We need to know whether treatment has been provided on an inpatient or on an outpatient basis. Of particular concern is a history of any suicide attempts. Many people who are depressed have suicidal thoughts and express them to their doctors. Most individuals however, do not act on these thoughts. Doctors’ notes are very critical here to help us differentiate between musings of despair and actual intent to harm oneself.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder, formerly referred to as Manic Depression, is often treated successfully with modern medication. The drug regimen is of particular importance because certain medications used to treat Bipolar Disorder, such as Lithium, can lead to serious side effects if used in high doses over long periods of time.

Lifestyle choices also hold much weight in underwriting decisions. Self-medicating with illicit drugs or alcohol can be self-destructive and can increase one’s risk of mortality. Conversely, when people lead functional lives – especially maintaining close bonds with family and friends – they decrease their risk of mortality.

Get your doctors’ notes

Doctors’ notes, regarding information on suicide attempts or thoughts, are very critical here. Your doctors’ notes may reveal many positive lifestyle qualities that will put your information on suicide into proper perspective. And, these notes will help the underwriter differentiate between thoughts of despair and actual intent to harm oneself.

By the way, we always recommend that our clients obtain a copy of their medical records, to ensure their doctors are including positive health and lifestyle information, not just the negative information on suicide.

Be honest with your life insurance broker

Suicide is a tough thing to talk about. And, nobody likes to admit thinking about it. It is so critical, though, to just put your cards on the table and tell your broker what you went through.

Therefore, be sure to disclose any suicide attempts or ideation, so your broker can factor that into your quote during the research phase. If it’s not disclosed by you, but uncovered during underwriting – as it will be – then you will greatly reduce your chances of getting coverage.

Demand prequalification from your broker

If your broker submits a formal application, then any negative underwriting decisions will be placed into your application history. A negative history can make it even more difficult to find affordable coverage, next time you apply.

On the other hand, if your broker prequalifies you without a formal application, then any negative decisions will not be placed into your history and will simply fall by the wayside. Thus, prequalification protects your application history from the risk of negative underwriting decisions.

Yet, when done properly, prequalification still provides the same accuracy as a formal application. (Please see how a poorly chosen broker fails to properly perform prequalification, adversely affecting the consumer’s life insurance rates.)

So, yes, you can have your cake and eat it too. Prequalification results in completely reliable quotes with zero risk of negative information being placed into your application history. At our firm, we consider this the ideal method of obtaining life insurance quotes.

Therefore, make sure your broker prequalifies you without a formal application. If they are reluctant to do so, you can demand prequalification without a formal application.

As a consumer, how can you know if your broker prequalified you? Ask them the following question:

“Assuming I’ve been honest with you about my medical history – and assuming there won’t be any surprises in my doctors’ notes and my medical exam – are you confident that this quote is what I’ll get from the life insurance company?”

If your broker can’t be confident, then they haven’t prequalified you. They’re just guessing what your rate might be. It might be an educated guess, but it’s still just a guess. Ask them again to prequalify you, or find another broker who will.

Summary of Consumer Advice

  1. Understand the basic underwriting issues and information required by the underwriter.
  2. Get a copy of your doctors’ notes. Review them and make sure they’re accurate. Correct any errors.
  3. Be honest and don’t hold back on your medical history. It’ll come out, anyway, and it’s best to let your broker handle it for you, upfront.
  4. Make sure that your broker has prequalified you without a formal application. If you are honest with your broker, then you deserve reliable quotes without any unpleasant surprises.