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Living with depression or anxiety can impact your life insurance premiums. Here's how to get the affordable coverage you need.
Updated December 7, 2020
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Sharing your health history can be intimidating, especially when it comes to your mental health. But life insurance providers want to know your full health picture, including mental health diagnoses like depression and anxiety.
But just because you have clinical anxiety or depression or you’ve received treatment for a mental health issue, that doesn't necessarily mean you will be denied coverage or that your premiums will be higher. Some insurers will still offer you the best prices if your depression or anxiety are mild or well-managed.
Here’s how depression and anxiety affect your life insurance premiums and application, and how to secure the right policy for your circumstances.
Premiums vary depending on the severity of depression or anxiety and your treatment history
Disclose your entire mental health history to the insurance company to receive accurate quotes
Insurers can deny or reduce the death benefit if you misrepresent your mental health history
Purchase a policy before becoming pregnant to avoid increased premiums due to postpartum depression
Clinical depression and anxiety are considered a health risk by insurers, and life insurance providers vary in how they weigh those risks during underwriting. If you have a recent diagnosis, or you have an inconsistent treatment history for your depression or anxiety, you’ll receive a less favorable health classification and pay higher premiums. Likewise, people with mild anxiety or depression and those who manage their condition well are more likely to receive lower premiums than those with severe diagnoses, but every application is evaluated on an individual basis.
Your physical and mental health is evaluated when you apply for life insurance, so your final policy offer will depend on your individual depression or anxiety diagnosis and treatment history, the rest of your medical and personal history, and how your life insurance provider weighs those factors.
Be prepared to answer these questions during underwriting:
Have you ever been treated for and/or taken medication for depression or anxiety?
When were you diagnosed?
What was your diagnosis (mild, moderate, or severe)?
Are you currently undergoing treatment?
What medications are you currently taking?
Are you currently in psychotherapy treatment?
Have you ever been hospitalized due to depression or anxiety?
The underwriter mainly wants to see consistency, like “steady employment, not being hospitalized, no self-harm attempts, and a consistent treatment plan,” says Jake Herskovits, a senior sales associate at Policygenius. Herskovits adds that being on fewer medications usually translates to more favorable premiums, but a medication plan without frequent changes in dosages or types of medication is more important to an underwriter.
Your exact diagnosis matters too. If you have a condition more commonly linked to suicide, like severe depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, your premiums will likely be higher. Depending on your treatment history, some providers may decline your coverage.
Life insurance underwriters are principally interested in anxiety diagnoses that require medication or might affect your daily life, like generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As with other medical conditions, underwriters will evaluate the kind of anxiety you experience, your symptoms, and how you manage those symptoms.
If you consistently take medication or see a mental health professional for your anxiety, that will likely improve your chances of a better classification. If you have been hospitalized due to anxiety symptoms, that may negatively affect your classification. And if your anxiety is situational, e.g., you only need medication for your anxiety when on an airplane, you may be underwritten more favorably than someone who takes anxiety medication every day.
Postpartum depression is typically a limited condition that occurs within the first three months of having a baby, but since there’s limited information about postpartum depression, some providers treat it the same as clinical depression.
This means if an insurer sees postpartum depression in your mental health history — even if it’s not an ongoing condition and you’re not at risk of self-harm — you may be assessed as if you have ongoing depression. It’s different with every company; some will only dig into it for policies with higher coverage amounts, and other providers don’t consider postpartum depression at all.
The possibility of postpartum depression hiking up your premiums is one reason why it’s best to get life insurance before you are pregnant.
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A guaranteed issue policy costs more than term life insurance for less coverage, but has almost-certain approval with no medical questions or exam required. Group life insurance will also offer less coverage than you likely need, but you’ll be approved regardless of your health status, and your employer may subsidize some or all of the premiums.
If you were declined coverage due to inconsistent treatment or a recent diagnosis, you may be able to find a traditional policy after a year or more of steady and positive treatment outcomes.
You should always be completely forthcoming with your life insurance provider. Standard medical records requests during underwriting will reveal any prescriptions you have and diagnoses you’ve received, so it’s incredibly difficult to conceal your mental health history. If you did manage to hide any details, you can still be penalized.
The contestability period outlined in your policy allows your provider to review your application materials again if you pass away in the first one to two years of your policy. If the review reveals evidence that you intentionally withheld information on your application, the insurance company can deny or lower the death benefit intended for your loved ones. Most policies also allow your provider to punish you if they discover any misrepresentations after the contestability period ends.
This period differs from the “suicide clause” included in most insurance policies, which allows a company to deny a claim if you die by suicide within two to three years of receiving life insurance coverage.
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It’s still possible to find affordable life insurance if you’re living with depression or anxiety. Some providers could offer you their best health classifications as long as you appear to be managing your mental health and your treatment is consistent. Multiple factors influence your final life insurance offer, from your specific mental health diagnosis to your family medical history. An insurance agent or broker can determine which provider will offer you the best policy based on all of your information.
Yes. Depending on the severity of your diagnosis and how well-managed it is, you may even be eligible for a provider’s most affordable premiums.
The impact on your policy will depend on your exact diagnosis, how long you’ve had your diagnosis, your history of treatment, and how much your depression or anxiety affects your daily life. Someone with major depressive disorder may pay higher premiums than someone with mild situational anxiety, for example.
Both seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants can positively affect your life insurance premiums. Working with a professional and maintaining regular treatment for your depression or anxiety indicates to underwriters that you’re a low-risk applicant.
Amanda Shih is a life insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has a passion for making complex topics relatable and understandable, and has been writing about insurance since 2017 with specialities in life insurance cost and policy types. She's previously written for Jetty and LegalZoom.