We understand that the prospect of enquiring about life insurance can seem a little daunting. And that the daunting feeling can be even greater with the added consideration of a mental health condition. This article aims to help guide those in the UK who are interested in life insurance and have in the past or are currently dealing with mental health issues. Mental health is of course a wide spectrum of conditions and means very different things to different people. Here we will focus on depression life insurance for depression & anxiety sufferers. But the principles largely remain for conditions that fall outside of those diagnoses. Of course, we would never be able to cover all scenarios here in any case. And for that reason, we are always ready and happy to take your enquiries should you wish to discuss issues not covered here. That said, if any of the following sound like the point you currently find yourself with regard to mental health life insurance, then this read should be of use;
Data from the charity mind.org.uk estimates that some 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem over the course of each year. Although the total number of mental health sufferers doesn’t appear to be increasing, the way people deal with the issues seems to be worsening. This is highlighted by a trend that sees self-harm and suicide cases on the increase in recent years.
According to nopanic.org.uk, depression and anxiety are the most common forms of mental health disorders in the UK. They suggest that 7.8% of Britons meet the criteria for diagnosis at any given time. The charity estimates that as high as 10% of people in England will experience depression at some stage of their lives. There is also an economic effect attributed to depression and anxiety as it’s believed to contribute to 20% of Britain’s sick days.
Applications for life insurance for people with mental health conditions include those who experience episodes were their thoughts turn to self-harm or suicide. In some cases, this can lead people to act on those thoughts. This is an obvious consideration when an assessment is being made for life insurance for depression sufferers for example. The less immediate but potentially long-term damaging implications of depression and anxiety can be lifestyle choices. In some cases, people will drink alcohol to relive the symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression. This pattern of behaviour has obvious implications and can often become more regular and excessive over time. Similarly, those suffering with mental health issues can become less interested in eating well or exercising and can also often get less sleep or good quality sleep. It is for these reasons that life insurance for mental health patients will often ask questions based around lifestyle and in particular any use of drugs or excessive alcohol intake.
Insurance providers like to ask lots of questions. And life insurance for people with depression & anxiety is no different. As with all life insurance policies, in order to get the cover, you will at some point be required to complete a ‘health and lifestyle’ questionnaire. This is a series of questions that cover your medical history, lifestyle, family history as well as things like more risky sports activities or occupations. These questionnaires are designed to capture information for relevant disclosures such as depression or anxiety. They will ask detailed questions surrounding such conditions in order to assess individual circumstances. The less detail or the less accurate the details, the greater chance there could be of a person either paying more or not being offered cover at all. For these reasons, it’s very important to make sure you are prepared before you begin.
Life insurance for mental health patients’ application process will focus greatly around dates and timescales. If we take an example of a life insurance for people with depression application. Firstly, all insurers will ask the date of diagnosis or in some cases the date of onset of symptoms. If this was some time in the past, it may not be immediately obvious to the individual applying. So, before you start the process, it will help to get these dates firmly established in your mind. That may take a check back with your doctor or family. It’s well worth getting the accurate date though as it will always be requested by providers of depression life insurance in the UK.
Likewise, timelines and dates about treatment are relevant and will come up with all applications for life insurance for mental health patients. This includes not only medications but also therapy treatments such as counselling and psychiatrist or psychologist visits. It is important to be able to give accurate dates for when any treatments started and ended. Any increases or decreases in dosages of medications is also relevant as well as if there has been a change from one type of medication to another. If an individual has tried different types of medications and doses in the past to find the best formula to best control their symptoms, we know this can be hard to keep track of.
Take some time to get a clear picture of exactly how your treatment evolved so that you can be as accurate as possible. It will also help with what can already be for some quite an uncomfortable experience in talking through their history to someone they don’t know. Not having the pressure to try and remember on the spot information that is very relevant to your chances of a successful application can reduce the stress considerably.
Anxiety life insurance as well as life insurance for people with depression providers will want to gauge what affect the conditions have on your daily living. To help them with this they will ask about any time off work, what frequency you may have experienced symptoms and the severity of those symptoms. Once again, it will help your application to be able to give accurate timelines and dates in answering these questions. Generally, time of work is asked for over the course of the last two years and in weeks. Symptoms and their severity questions typically go back 5 years with most providers. However, if you have suffered with more severe conditions requiring hospitalisation or psychiatric care, then insurers will want to know details stretching further back in time.
Finally, it is unavoidable with depression and anxiety life insurance applications not to be asked about suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, as well as any history of self-harm. We understand this can be an extremely delicate and painful topic to discuss. It is unfortunately inevitable and necessary. With this in mind, try and prepare yourself for these questions. And not only in the context of their inevitability. But also, be sure you are in an environment that does not make talking on the phone uncomfortable. A quiet spot away from eyes and ears where you can be as relaxed as possible is a good idea.
In short, get all the information you know or think may be relevant clear before you begin. Preferably on a piece of paper or document that you can use to refer to during conversations about your quotes for depression life insurance. It will make the process so much easier and will mean you are far more composed and ready to consider your options in a clear and calmer state of mind.
Take the time to get dates and timelines clear before you begin
Have a clear picture of your treatment history
Get start and end dates of treatments
Have a record of when medications began, increased or decreased in dosage
Any time of work in the last 2 years? Be able to answer accurately in weeks
Have ready dates surrounding frequency and severity of symptoms in the last 5 years
Questions can be tough. Pick an environment you are comfortable in
Life insurance for depression sufferers as well as anxiety and life insurance applicants will oftenhave additional disclosures to make when fulfilling a questionnaire. As with the above, it is important to be able to provide as accurate information as possible. Most conditions will have little to no significance in terms of any link to anxiety life insurance or depression life insurance. For example, there is not commonly any association between a disclosure for asthma, anxiety and life insurance. Although both conditions are always covered in any health and lifestyle questionnaire.
There are examples however, where there is either a direct link or in medical terms a common association. A prolonged back injury can lead to a period of inactivity which in turn can lead to the sufferer becoming depressed over time. It’s common for depression and anxiety life insurance providers to ask if there was any specific cause that initiated a condition. And in this case the physical condition could lead directly to the subsequent mental one. Providers of life insurance in the UK will often ask about causation to help them better understand personal circumstances. Quite often providers will offer terms of insurance more easily where a clear cause can be identified.
There are certain conditions that when disclosed as part of a life insurance for depression application, will be assessed as a whole. This is because of an established link between depression and the condition/s. Examples include complaints such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. These disorders along with a history of chronic pain, have strongly been associated with depression. Insurers, therefore, consider them in more of a holistic way rather than to assess them in isolation.
It is of course unavoidable not to disclose any additional conditions to an insurer as part of an application. With that in mind, as already mentioned, it is best to make sure the information provided is as accurate as possible. It can also be beneficial to work with a specialist who is familiar with the mental health disclosures in question as well as any associated conditions. Experience and knowledge can make a significant difference in outcome. This is something discussed in greater detail further down.
There is a common misconception that certain reasons for a claim can be excluded from a life insurance policy. And we get asked fairly regularly if this is the case for depression life insurance or life insurance with anxiety. Firstly, what is an exclusion in insurance terms? Put simply, it is an eventuality that would otherwise normally be covered by a policy which has been removed. This is often because it relates to a pre-existing condition or circumstance. When compiling quotes for life insurance, you will often see disclaimers relating to a figure being subject to full underwriting. And this is the case. No price is fixed until an application has been fully underwritten and an offer of insurance made (more on that a little later).
However, there still remains a common misunderstanding with regard to life insurance quotes, pre existing conditions and exclusions. Providers for life insurance in the UK do not exclude any conditions for life insurance policies. They will where they see fit increase the price (known as a rating or loading). Or they may postpone the cover or in certain circumstances decline to offer insurance. But they never exclude pre existing conditions for life insurance claims.
The confusion comes about because of the related product know as critical illness cover. This is a type of insurance typically added onto a life insurance policy. It pays out if you are diagnosed with a critical illness such as cancer or heart attack. For these types of policies insurers do often exclude pre existing conditions and it is because of this that the confusion has come about.
In some cases, insurers ask for more information over and above that which is captured via the ‘health and lifestyle’ questionnaire. They do this to get further clarity of an individual’s situation in order to make a fair assessment as to whether they can offer insurance and at what price. These requests are often referred to as ‘further medical evidence’ and can come in several different forms.
A report from a doctor (known as a ‘GP Report’ or ‘Targeted Medical Report’), is a request sent to your GP to ask for more information about your medical history. Before an insurer does this, they require your consent. Some request this as a paper hard copy. Many can now also request it as an electronic document. A GP report takes the form of a more general account of your medical history. And a targeted report will request answers to questions about a specific medical condition. These types of report requests are common with applicants for life insurance anxiety disorders and life insurance for depression sufferers. They assist the life insurer to fully understand a medical history and help with full disclosure on the part of the applicant.
There are also differing types of medical examinations insurers commonly use. These range from quite basic types of examinations to quite detailed and comprehensive examples. The latter is much rarer and used mostly for cases with higher sums assured of a million pounds or more. The more common examples are referred to as a ‘Nurse Screen’ or ‘Mini Screen’. In the context of life insurance for depression or anxiety life insurance applications they are not typical. This is because they are focused more on testing for basic physical wellbeing markers such as height and weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There may be a requirement for this type of test due to other disclosures within an application. There are also limits to an amount of cover and an applicant’s age that will automatically trigger the need for such reports. For example, someone of age 30 would not automatically require a test for £500,000 of cover. But, for someone in their 50’s, it may be that a ‘Nurse Screen’ is an automatic requirement to achieve this amount of insurance.
Insurers have increasingly started to use something known as a ‘Tele Interview’ more frequently over recent years. This is simply where the insurer contacts the customer directly on the back of a completed health and lifestyle questionnaire. This is usually via a phone call but can sometimes be via a set of emailed questions. The purpose is to gather more information around a specific topic to try and get a better understanding. This action can be taken prior to requesting any of the above further evidences but is also sometimes requested after further evidence has been received and reviewed.
It’s worth knowing that all the above reports and screenings are paid for by the insurers themselves. There is no cost to the applicant. This is reassuring the know if you find yourself in such a position as insurers don’t like to spend money unless they consider there is a reasonable chance of being able to offer some insurance.
In the event you are turned down for a life insurance depression request or anxiety life insurance what should your next step be? Firstly, it’s important to double check everything has been entered into the application correctly. It’s not uncommon for people to make mistakes. In fact, it is very common that they make mistakes. Ask to run through all the answers you have given with the insurance representative and check them all for accuracy. And that doesn’t just mean the details for depression and anxiety life insurance questions. Check everything, including things such as your date of birth and height and weight have been recorded correctly. A figure that is inaccurately input here or a date which is wrongly recorded there can have a big impact on the decision of an application. So, check and double check everything.
If you arrive at the conclusion that your case has been turned down, then make sure you are aware of the type of decision. There are two kinds of results for a ‘no’ you can get from an insurer. One is known as a postponement. This is when an insurer is in essence saying they won’t offer cover today, but they may in the future and typically after a specified period of time. A postponement is generally applied when there is an unresolved matter or a recent change in circumstances.
Examples could be a person has recently been diagnosed say in the past 3 months. In this case an insurer may ask for a period of 6 months before they will consider an application. Or, perhaps an applicant has recently increased the dosage of their medication to improve control of their symptoms. Again, an insurer may ask for 6-9 months before reapplying so that it can be clearly judged if the improved control has been achieved.
The other type of ‘no’ is a decline. This is when an insurer has taken the view that they are unable to offer insurance due to the circumstances presented to them. In this situation and as with a postponement decision, it is vitally important to have a full understanding of why. And by a full understanding, not just a vague reason such as, ‘because of your depression’. This is not detailed enough to help in assessing how best to progress. Quite often there will be a specific reason and it can very often be something with a work around. Was the reason related to depression or something else disclosed on the application? Is it because you are currently having a particular type of treatment such as visits to a psychiatrist or psychologist both of which trigger an automatic decline with the chosen insurer? An experienced and knowledgeable broker will be able to explain the exact reason. If the person you are dealing with is finding this difficult, then perhaps that is a red flag (more on this shortly).
What is the purpose of this level of understanding the reason for a ‘no’? If it’s a ‘no’, it’s a ‘no’ right? Well, no! Not all insurers are the same. What is deemed to be outside of a tolerance level for one insurer could be well within an acceptable level for another. As well as this, the way questions as structured differs from life insurer to insurer. In essence, there are horses for courses within the life insurance marketplace. Different companies employ different philosophies to their underwriting processes and decisions. Being denied life insurance because of depression with one insurer can very often be a ‘yes’ for depression life insurance with an alternative. And this is where using the right person for the job can make such a difference….
Find out exactly the outcome. Postponed or a decline mean different things.
Check, double check and triple check. People do and will make mistakes.
Get the full story. What, when and why. Knowledge is power!
Not all insurers are the same. It is horses for courses out there.
Having knowledge and experience on your side can make all the difference.
We’ve already touched on this subject a couple of times, but it is so vitally important, it’s worth contemplating in more detail. Finding the right person/organisation to assist in your search for life insurance for mental health patients can make a huge difference. Using a broker with a detailed understanding of how their panel of insurers work and assess circumstances is key. As already mentioned above, not all insurers are the same. And, it can be in the detail where an experienced individual can identify differences. This can affect not only being successful in an application for insurance but also the cost of the cover. It’s one thing being able to get the cover. But why pay more for it if there is a cheaper option available?
This is in contrast to many of the alternatives available in the life insurance marketplace. Someone wishing to get life insurance for people with depression or life insurance with anxiety may want to avoid certain organisations. This is mainly due to the way they are set up. The large price comparison companies who advertise nationwide as well as some insurers or large brokers work on a volume business model basis. They set huge targets and demand that their staff reach them. In this environment, there is little room for those applicants who fall outside the perceived ‘norm’. This can be because of lack of training, or little appetite to cater for more specific requirements. In essence these companies just want people they can process as quickly as possible.
By using such a route to the market, depression and anxiety life insurance customers may well experience a lack of motivation by the salespersons to find the best solution to their needs. If you find yourself talking to someone who seems to have little understanding or motivation to help, it might be time to look somewhere else? Equally, if you are offered a product at an increased price without consideration of other options, maybe it’s not the right choice for you? Don’t allow commission hungry, target driven call centre staff to dupe you into thinking ‘it’s this or nothing’. It may be that the price offered is the best you will find. But make sure you are confident that is the case before you commit by ensuring sufficient research has been completed into all your options before you decide.
Details matter. Make sure you work with someone who understands this
Target driven set ups don’t leave much space for best outcomes
Question if the person you deal with is as motivated as you to find your perfect policy
Offered a deal? Ask what all your options are before you commit
This section is an extension of what’s been discussed above. As with many forms of marketing, the lure of a price is often used to entice people in a certain direction. With life insurance for people with depression or life insurance for anxiety sufferers this can be misleading. A life insurance quote is just that. A quote. Until that is, it turns into an offer of insurance. And in no circumstances will an offer of insurance ever be made until a full application has been assessed via underwriting by an insurer. The quotes you can produce online prior to discussing your circumstances in detail or completing an application are standard prices. They do not take into consideration anything other than your age, smoking status and the amount of cover and length of time you have requested for it to run. In short, these quotes assume you do not have anything to disclose as part of your application.
This leads on to a second consideration. And once again, adds to the strong argument that using a specialist life insurance for mental health patients’ brokercan be key. A good broker will ask you many questions before they provide you with a quote. By doing this they are finding out all the necessary information they need to give you an accurate quote. Using this information, they will be able to give you clear examples of options and their prices. In some cases, it may be that they will need to go away and compile some further research before they can provide a quote. It may be that the price is unaffected by any mental health considerations and is the same as a ‘standard’ price. Or, it may be that due to your circumstances there is the likelihood of a ‘rating’ to be added to the premium.
As a rule, this is an affective way of gauging the knowledge and experience of the company you have approached to help in your search for cover. If the person you are speaking to is asking you informed questions around the topic of your mental health history, then that is generally a good sign. If, however, the person you are speaking to doesn’t seem to have any prior knowledge or fails to address it as an issue, then proceed with caution with any quotes. The less questions you are asked prior to being presented with a depression and anxiety life insurance quote, the less chance it has of being accurate.
We’ve covered a lot of ground here so let’s look again at some of the main points in getting life insurance with depression & anxiety. Before you begin, make sure you are prepared. Get together timelines of dates including those for diagnosis, medications and treatments. Get dates together for any periods you were off work as well as the frequency of your symptoms. Give yourself a flying start and save yourself the pressure of being put on the spot. Pick an environment you can talk freely and comfortably in. It’s not always easy to talk about your mental health history, but it’s worse when there’s the risk of people eavesdropping as well!
Before you commit to an offer or a price, ask yourself if you’re confident that is the best you are going to get. Don’t be pressured into accepting something just because it’s the easy option for the person on the other end of the phone. Or, because they either are not motivated or too inexperienced to guide you through alternatives. And remember, if you do decide you must accept a rated premium due to your depression or anxiety, you are free to review it at any time. There are no tie in periods with life insurance and no penalties to cancel the cover at any time during the term. A good broker will be able to provide details of when you will potentially qualify for a cheaper rate and will offer to diarise a call to remind you then. If you find you circumstances improve in the meantime, then be proactive. Get on the phone and get the ball rolling.
A specialist, if chosen correctly, can save time and cut to the chase with all your options from their panel of depression and anxiety life insurance providers and their prices. You are free to do the leg work yourself of course. And, armed with this guide you will no doubt make a good job of it. But it will be time consuming and laborious. And remember the rule, the less questions you are asked, the less likely the life insurance quotes you revive will be accurate. If the person you are speaking to seems unsure or not set up to deal with your circumstances, then it’s a pretty good reason to move on.
If you get turned down, first of all double check everything in detail. Make sure the details you have given are the same as what has been input on the application. And if the decision is still the same find out exactly what the decision is and why. If it’s a postponement, find out the reason and the timescale. A good broker will diarise a time to get back in contact after exhausting all the other options first. If it’s a decline, get right to the bottom of the reason with all it’s detail. Not all insurers are the same. If one says no, that does not mean they all will.
And on a final note, if you have an existing policy and the price was increased due to mental health disclosures, why not review it? Just because you were asked to pay a higher price then does not mean you will be asked to pay a higher price now. And of course, you are always free to review your depression and anxiety life insurance policy at any time. And it won’t cost you a thing except a few moments of your time. So, what’s stopping you?
Top tips recap;
Before you begin, make sure you are prepared.
Pick an environment you are comfortable in to talk through your situation.
Don’t take the first offer. Make sure you are confident it’s the best before committing.
You are free to review your cover at any time. Don’t continue to pay more unnecessarily.
Be proactive if your circumstances change.
Using a specialist can save time, point out clear options and ensure best outcome.
Remember, more questions equal more chance of a quote being accurate.
Bad result? Firstly, double check everything has been input correctly.
Decline or postponed? Find out why in detail before considering your other options.
Remember, not all insurers are the same. A no may not be a no everywhere.
Paying a higher price? Get a review ASAP and see of there is a cheaper alternative.
We hope this is a useful tool in helping you on your way to getting the life insurance as one of the many people in the UK who live with depression and anxiety. It would be impossible to have covered every scenario here. So, we are always ready and happy to talk through any further questions you might have. Feel free to get in touch and ask away.
As well as these two conditions for which there can be vastly differing degrees of severity, we are also talking about other mental health conditions such as stress or panic attacks, chronic fatigue, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, anorexia or bulimia.
Treatments may vary from medication such as anti depressants like Fluoxetine or Citalopram, to requiring the expertise of heath professional such as a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse. With conditions like these being so common it’s worth knowing what implications they may have on a life insurance application.
As with most medical conditions, the insurer will invariably ask for more information about how your condition affects your daily living. In many cases however, suffering from either anxiety or depression or indeed both for example, can have little or no affect on the premium of your policy if you select the most appropriate insurer.
The reason for this is that not all insurers are the same in terms of the way they decide what emphasis they attribute to a medical condition and therefore who they will accept to insure and indeed how much they will charge that person for the cover.
Now to put things into perspective, we’re not trying to suggest there are insurers out there who will accept everyone regardless of their individual circumstances. There are a number of considerations that will have an impact on a person’s prospects of getting life insurance and/or critical illness cover and far too many to list in detail here.
The point is, there is a large spectrum of severity and indeed variations of mental health conditions. The less severe a condition is, the greater the chance of it having no effect on a person being granted the same terms as someone who does not suffer any such conditions.
In the more extreme cases there is of course more chance that an insurer will increase the cost of any cover they offer or indeed choose not to offer any cover at all. However, its often the middle ground where we often see the largest degree of differences in outcomes from provider to provider.
So what does this mean in a practical sense? Well let’s say person ‘A’ has a history of depression caused by a divorce and has been taking a course of fluoxetine to relieve the symptoms for a period of a few months. Perhaps, person ‘A’ took a couple of weeks off work that was attributed to depression.
Now, although person ‘A’ feels that their condition is in a state they would describe as controlled, they would not consider themselves as recovered and both they and their GP still feel there is a need to continue with the medication they are using.
Person ‘A’ has a need to source a life insurance policy, perhaps because they are getting a new mortgage. They shop around online and find a quote they are happy with. They decide to apply and find that after the application process the original price has changed, in fact its jump to an amount significantly higher than what it started out at. So, person ‘A’ decides they will try the next insurer down the list, going through the entire application process again, and the same thing happens. At this point person ‘A’ assumes that because of their mental health condition, it will be the same with every insurer and it’s just a fact that they will have to pay more for their life insurance.
Unfortunately, person ‘A’ may well be completely wrong in the conclusion they have arrived at. And, they may well have spent a good deal of time getting to that conclusion. If person ‘A’ had approached a company that has access to as wide a panel of insurers as possible and is willing to take the time to understand person ‘A’s individual circumstances and do the background work to find the best solution, they may well have found an insurer that took a less costly outlook on when assessing their personal circumstances.
That’s why it can be beneficial to us an independent broker such as I’m Insured to look at all the options for you. We have access to a full market range of life assurance providers and can tailor a plan that fits your personal circumstances by doing the leg work for you and explaining the options that are available, allowing you to make an informed choice. Then if you choose, we can guide you through the application process that will ask for details about your condition to allow for an instant decision in many cases. You will also benefit from our discounted rates when you apply via I’m Insured.
It’s also worth mentioning at this point that some of our existing customers have told us they found it easier to talk to a person over the phone about their personal circumstances rather than a face to face meeting with an IFA or mortgage broker they have used in the past due to the nature of some of the topics that are discussed.
In short, this is what we want to do for you. To listen to what you want. Understand your personal circumstances. Find out the effects, if any, this may have and then present you will the facts so that you can chose the right insurance plan for you. Simple really!
Yes, you can. As with all medical disclosures on a life insurance application, your circumstances will be assets on an individual basis. As a rule, if your condition is well controlled and not diagnosed very recently, then there is a very good chance of getting life insurance at a similar to same price as someone without a mental health disclosure.
It does not affect the ability to make a claim as it is never excluded. More severe cases may mean the cost of the cover is increased. If you are diagnosed after you have taken out a policy, there is no need to inform the insurer.
Anti-depressant use alone with very rarely affect an individuals chances of getting life insurance. If a person has used antidepressant medication for a few months or more and it has stabilised their symptoms, there is a good chance it will have no affect
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