If you suffer from ongoing depression, you may not be aware that it can affect your life insurance. Life insurance companies are concerned about your physical health, but they are also concerned about your mental health. Depression or other mental health problems can affect life insurance, but not as much as it did in the past. A mental health diagnosis will not keep you from getting life insurance, but there are several different factors you should know about before applying for life insurance.
Depression and Related Disorders
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States with approximately 7 million people diagnosed, and the numbers of those with anxiety are even higher. There are different types of depression. A diagnosis of depression does not come with feeling depressed, which we all feel at one time or another. A depressive episode can come from life situations, such as a loss of a loved one, loss of a job, a divorce, a serious accident, or another situation in life that we feel a loss. These phases of depression are just that, a phase in our life that passes.
A diagnosis of depression is often given if the individual has several symptoms of depression over a period of time, and often needs some type of intervention to manage the symptoms. Symptoms of depression include a depressed mood, a loss of enjoyment in daily activities, low motivation and energy, an increase or decrease in appetite, sleeping too much or not enough, anxiety, poor concentration, negative thinking, and physical pain for no identified reason. In severe cases, the individual may experience psychosis, usually hearing or seeing things other do not, and they may have suicidal thoughts.
Individuals can experience some or all of these symptoms, and they may need medication, therapy, or hospitalization to recover. Those with depression often experience anxiety, which is a generalized fear without any identified source. Anxiety also causes excessive worry and ruminating thoughts that will not stop. Anxiety can be diagnosed outside of depression or other mood disorder.
Depression can also be one cycle of a mood disorder called Bipolar Disorder. When an individual has bipolar disorder, their moods fluctuate between severe depression and mania. Mania is when someone feels on top of the world, has lots of energy, is impulsive and makes poor life decisions, may go days without sleeping, and they can experience psychosis or thoughts of harming themselves in extreme cases.
Depression and anxiety can be complicated and can lead to complications in life. Someone diagnosed with any of these mood or anxiety disorders often needs ongoing treatment due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Like a chronic medical condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, in many cases, the individual will need to continue treatment to be symptom-free. A psychiatrist or counselor can help you determine which type of depression you have and the best course of treatment.
Depression and Life Insurance Rates
As you can see, being diagnosed with depression is entirely different from having a period of depression due to a life situation. It is a serious illness, and because of that, it is a diagnosis that life insurance companies consider when they are determining policy rates or if you are eligible for a policy. Insurance companies do not look at all types of depression the same. For example, they do not consider depression due to a life situation, or what they call “reactive depression,” as a risk factor because it is short-lived. If you were prescribed Prozac while you were going through a divorce or following a death of a loved one, then the insurance company will not see this as a problem.
If you have been treated with medication and/or therapy for an extended period of time or needed inpatient hospitalization due to your mental health condition, this will be taken into account. Any of these can lead to you being rated at a higher risk for life insurance, which can mean higher rates or a denial. The reason for this is taken from two different areas. One is mortality rates, and the other is health related problems.
Sadly, mortality rates for an individual with some type of mood disorder are higher than someone without one. Many suffering from a mood disorder also have other medical problems, or comorbid conditions, due to their depression or from the medication they take to treat their condition. These issues are what lead to a denial or higher life insurance rates, but this is not the end of the story. There are things you can do to help if you’ve been diagnosed with some type of depression, anxiety, or another mental illness.
Life Insurance Rate Class
It’s helpful to understand how the life insurance rate class system works. Life insurance premiums or denials are determined by a set rate class system. The system takes into account several factors, such as your height and weight, any medical or mental health condition, tobacco use, family history, substance abuse, and even your driving record present when you apply. The insurance company’s underwriters, the guys that make your class determination, will take all of these factors together and plot it out on a table.
This table will place you in a rating class: 1) Perferred Plus, the best rating; 2) Perferred, a mid-high rating; 3) Regular, a mid-to-lower rating; or 4) Non-Regular, which is the lowest rating. The Non-Regular is the class that will lead to a denial or the highest cost for life insurance. Where you are in your treatment, your medical conditions, and how you manage any diagnosed illness will have an impact on your rating. If you are denied for life insurance, you can appeal this decision. If you fall into a high-risk category when you apply, you will have higher rates, but this can change with time and how you manage your illness.
What You Can Do
The first thing you need that helps is to know what the life insurance company will ask about your mood disorder. They will want to know:
- When you were first diagnosed with depression or other mental disorder and the severity – mild, moderate, or severe.
- What treatment was recommended, such as medication and therapy, and if you have followed the recommendations.
- How often you see your physician, psychiatrist, or therapist for treatment.
- If you have had thoughts of harming yourself or others.
- If you have ever needed inpatient hospitalization, and if so, how long it’s been since your last hospitalization.
As you can imagine, you want to be able to show that you are following the treatment recommendations and your mood is stable. You will need to produce your treatment records. If you have carried the diagnosis for a period of time and have been stable, you can qualify for a higher class rating and lower premiums. If you are newly diagnosed or recently had an inpatient stay, it will help if you have a letter from the psychiatrist or therapist showing that you are following the treatment recommendations. You can also do this after having the policy for one year to reduce your rates.
Applying for Life Insurance
When applying for life insurance with depression or another mental illness, you may find it complicated and frustrating. There is an easier way to find the right life insurance policy to cover your loved ones at a rate that will fit your budget. Using Smithfin, a life insurance comparison company, will make things much easier. Smithfin’s agents are friendly and experienced. They can find a life insurance company that is right for your unique situation without you needing to sort through the confusion. Call or visit them online to begin the process of planning for your life insurance coverage today.