Life insurance for people with depression

You can still get life insurance if you have depression, and may be eligible for competitive rates if you have a steady treatment history.

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As many as 19.4 million U.S. adults experience at least one major depressive episode in a year. [1] If you’re one of them, you may worry that a depression diagnosis will keep you from getting the life insurance protection that your family needs.

But having depression won’t keep you from qualifying for life insurance. If you have a mild diagnosis and/or pursue steady treatment without major disruptions to your daily life, you may even be offered a provider’s most competitive rates.

Key Takeaways

  • Your life insurance application won’t be declined just because you have depression

  • You’re more likely to be declined or get higher rates if you have recent hospitalizations related to depression 

  • Insurers will offer better rates if you follow a medication regimen and/or attend psychotherapy

Can you get life insurance if you have depression?

You can qualify for life insurance if you have depression. You’re more likely to pay more or be denied a traditional policy if you have a:

  • History of hospitalizations or self-harm 

  • Inability to maintain employment

  • Severe diagnosis 

When a complication occurred matters too—a hospitalization in the last 12 months is more likely to result in a denial, for example. However, even if you are denied a traditional policy, you can still qualify for some life insurance coverage through your employer or a final expense policy

How depression affects your life insurance policy

Insurance companies treat depression just like any other health condition. When you apply for a policy, an underwriter will determine whether your depression increases the risk of insuring you based on:

  • Diagnosis severity (mild, moderate, or severe)

  • Hospitalization history

  • Prescription history (including dosage and consistency of use)

  • Treatment plan 

  • When you were diagnosed

Your underwriter will be looking at your history to see that you’re “not being hospitalized, have no self-harm attempts, and have a consistent treatment plan,” says Jake Herskovits, a life insurance sales specialist at Policygenius.

You’ll be considered higher risk—and therefore have higher premiums—if your:

  • Diagnosis was received less than one year ago

  • Medication or psychotherapy history is inconsistent

  • Treatment requires multiple medications

Someone with moderate depression who sticks to their medication and attends therapy as recommended could be viewed as less risky than someone with mild depression who hasn’t pursued any treatment.

Always be completely honest about your health when buying a policy. If you try to conceal a depression diagnosis, it’ll be discovered during underwriting, and it can cost you higher premiums or coverage denial.

Postpartum depression and life insurance

Because of limited research on the condition, some insurance companies treat someone with a history of postpartum depression just like they would assess someone with major depressive disorder—even though postpartum symptoms are minimal and subside over time in most cases.

Every company treats the condition differently, and some won’t factor it into your rates at all. But, you could face higher rates because of pregnancy-related weight gain or other complications, so it’s always best to apply for coverage in your first trimester or before pregnancy.

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Best life insurance companies for people with depression

Every life insurance company weighs the risks of every health condition—and even different mental health diagnoses—differently. However, some companies offer more flexibility toward a depression diagnosis than others.

The table below reflects whether an applicant with depression can qualify for the most favorable health classification—Preferred Plus or Preferred—with each of our partner insurance companies:

CompanyQualification for best health classification
BannerYes, with up to 1 medication
BrighthousePossibly, with a mild diagnosis
LincolnYes, with up to 1 medication
Mutual of OmahaNo
Pacific LifeNo
ProtectiveYes, with up to 1 medication
PrudentialYes, with up to 1 medication
SBLIYes, with up to 1 medication

Methodology: Based on underwriting data provided by Policygenius’ 11 partner insurers as of July 2021. Qualifying for a Preferred Plus or Preferred health rating is dependent on specific treatment history and medication requirements that are approved for each age group and vary by provider.

Every application is evaluated on an individual basis, so the chart above is just a guideline. The best company for you will depend on your entire health history and your family’s financial needs. 

And just because you don’t qualify for the most competitive rates doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for coverage or that your policy will be unaffordable. You’ll often be given the second-best health classification, which could raise your premiums by as little as $10-15 per month.

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What to do if you’re denied life insurance because of a depression diagnosis

Though rare, it’s not impossible to have your life insurance application declined, especially if you have serious depression-related complications on your record. But, there are still a few ways to get coverage while you focus on your treatment:

  • Group life insurance: It’s always smart to take advantage of employer-sponsored life insurance coverage. Coverage amounts are lower than most people need, and you can’t port the policy, but approval is guaranteed and it's better to have some coverage rather than none at all.

  • Guaranteed issue life insurance: Coverage is limited to around $25,000, there are age limits, and premiums are high. However, this type of final expense insurance offers near-certain approval.

  • Simplified issue life insurance: Another type of final expense policy, this also comes with high premiums and age limits and requires a medical questionnaire for approval. But, you can get slightly more coverage—up to $50,000. 

It’s not ideal to only rely on group or final expense insurance because of the age and coverage restrictions, but having some life insurance is better than none. After you find a treatment plan that works for you and maintain it for a year or two, you can try to apply for a traditional policy. 

Having depression won’t keep you from securing life insurance protection for your family. You’ll need to disclose your prescription and therapy history when applying, but a record of consistent treatment can earn you better rates. An independent insurance agent can help you find the best provider for your needs.

Frequently asked questions

Can you be denied life insurance if you have depression?

You can’t be denied life insurance just for having depression. However, if you have recent self-harm attempts or hospitalizations on your record, you may be declined coverage.

Do you have to disclose your depression when you get life insurance?

Yes, you should disclose all of your health conditions. If you don’t, the insurer will find out from your medical records and you could lose your coverage for hiding the information.

Does having depression increase the cost of your life insurance?

It depends on the severity of your diagnosis and your treatment. A more severe diagnosis or inconsistent treatment history is more likely to earn you higher rates.