A complete guide to life insurance and mental health

A complete guide to life insurance and mental health

Katherine Murbach Policygenius

By

Katherine Murbach

Katherine Murbach

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Katherine Murbach is an associate editor and a licensed life insurance expert at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Expert reviewed

Expert reviewed

This article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.

Learn more about oureditorial review process.

By

Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

Updated June 14, 2022 | 7 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

Katherine Murbach Policygenius

By

Katherine Murbach

Katherine Murbach

Associate Editor & Licensed Life Insurance Expert

Katherine Murbach is an associate editor and a licensed life insurance expert at Policygenius. Previously, she wrote about life and disability insurance for 1752 Financial, and advised over 1,500 clients on their life insurance policies as a sales associate.

Expert reviewed

Expert reviewed

This article has been reviewed by a licensed Policygenius expert to ensure that sources, statistics, and claims meet our standard for accurate and unbiased advice.

Learn more about oureditorial review process.

By

Maria Filindras

Maria Filindras

Financial Advisor

Maria Filindras is a financial advisor, a licensed Life & Health insurance agent in California, and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius.

Updated June 14, 2022 | 7 min read

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our editorial standards and how we make money.

When you apply for life insurance, insurance companies make a decision on your application based on a number of factors, including your age, gender, habits, and health. If you have a mental health condition, you might be worried that you will be denied coverage. However, while your mental health condition might determine the kind of policy you can qualify for, it won’t automatically disqualify you from getting life insurance.

Shopping for life insurance with a mental health condition?

Finding coverage doesn't have to be complicated. We've got a team of experts who specialize in life insurance for people with various health considerations, including mental health conditions. They'll help you find the right options for your unique needs so you can get covered with confidence.

What is considered a mental health condition for life insurance coverage purposes?

When it comes to your mental health, a life insurance company is mostly interested in any diagnoses that require medication or might affect your daily life or ability to work. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines the following as mental health conditions:

  • Anxiety

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Bipolar disorder

  • Borderline personality disorder

  • Depression

  • Dissociative disorders

  • Eating disorders

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Psychosis

  • Schizoaffective disorder

  • Schizophrenia

Mental health conditions are very common: One in five U.S. adults experience a mental health disorder each year, according to NAMI, [1] and almost one in five U.S. adults experienced a major depressive episode in 2020. [2]

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Can you qualify for life insurance if you have a mental health condition?

It’s unlikely you’ll be denied life insurance coverage just because you have a mental health condition. You may pay more with some insurers, but others might offer you their most affordable premiums. Like any other health condition, it will depend on how you manage your mental health and the type of  diagnosis you received from your physician.

Can you qualify for life insurance if you were diagnosed with a mental health diagnosis in the past?

Yes, you can qualify for life insurance if you were previously diagnosed with a mental health condition. The insurance company might request an attending physician statement (APS) to confirm that you successfully completed your treatment plan and are no longer experiencing symptoms. If your diagnosis was mild and did not require medication, it’s likely that it will not impact your rates at all.

What do life insurance companies consider when you're applying with a mental health condition?

Depression and anxiety can cause physical health risks, such as cardiovascular disease and panic attacks, [3] [4] which insurers factor into your rates. Life insurance companies will want to see a complete picture of your diagnosis, treatment history, and the rest of your medical history to accurately set your premiums.

What parts of your mental health history are insurers looking at?

Your exact mental health diagnosis will be an important part of your application.

  • If you have a temporary or situational condition, such as postpartum depression or anxiety following a major life event for which you sought treatment or counseling, it is still important to disclose this to the insurance company. This probably won’t have any impact on your application.

  • If you have a condition more commonly linked to suicide, like severe depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, your premiums will be higher. [5]

  • Depending on your condition and medical history, you may be required to take a medical exam.

  • Regardless of your condition, it’s important to disclose any mental health diagnosis during the application process. Lying or hiding medical information can be considered fraud and have serious consequences for you, including policy denial, cancellation of coverage, or higher premiums.

The insurance company will mainly want to see a pattern of consistency, such as steady employment and a consistent treatment plan, says Jake Herskovits, Life Insurance Sales Team Lead at Policygenius. An insurer will also be more willing to offer you a better rate if you are on fewer medications, or if you have a medication plan without frequent changes in dosages or types of medications. You’ll be more likely to be declined coverage if you:

  • Can’t work or are on disability due to anxiety or depression

  • Have attempted suicide 

  • Were hospitalized due to anxiety or depression in the last year

During the application process, be prepared to answer questions about your mental health, including:

  • What was your exact diagnosis?

  • What was the date of your diagnosis?

  • Are you currently receiving psychotherapy treatment?

  • Are you currently taking medication for depression or anxiety?

  • Have you ever been treated for and/or taken medication for depression or anxiety?

  • Have you ever been hospitalized due to depression or anxiety?

How to improve your approval odds

  • Be ready to disclose the names, dosages, and frequency of any medications, if you’re taking any as part of your treatment.

  • Follow your doctor’s guidance on medication. If you are prescribed medication and do not take it as directed, the insurance company may think your condition is untreated, which can result in more expensive premiums.

  • Disclose any other treatment, including past hospitalizations. (In the event of a hospitalization for a mental health condition, life insurance companies will generally postpone the application for at least one year.)

What types of life insurance policies are available if you have a mental health condition?

Term life insurance

Term is one of the most popular types of life insurance available because it’s affordable and lasts as long as you need — for most people, that’s between 10 and 40 years. It’s suitable for most people who are looking to protect their income and other financial responsibilities (such as children or a mortgage) for a set period of time.

If you have a mental health condition, you can qualify for affordable term life insurance rates in many cases. The insurance company will take a look into your health history during the application process  to determine your rates, just as they would with any other health condition. But if you have had a recent hospitalization or in-patient treatment, the insurance company may see it as a sign of a higher insurance risk, and decide to postpone your application.

Permanent life insurance

If you have complex financial planning needs and are seeking whole life insurance, which is a type of permanent life insurance that usually comes with a cash value component that can be used as an investment vehicle, you should still be able to qualify with a mental health condition. The application process will be generally the same — the insurance company will look into your health history and determine your rates. Like with term, your eligibility will be delayed if you have had a recent hospitalization or in-patient treatment.

No-medical-exam life insurance

At Policygenius, we work with several insurance companies that do not automatically require medical exams, even if you have a mental health condition. In these cases, you would complete a health questionnaire online or over the phone instead. If your condition is mild with stable treatment, you can speak with a Policygenius expert to determine which options might be available for you to bypass the medical exam.

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Best companies for life insurance if you have a mental health condition

Every life insurance company weighs the risks of every health condition — including mental health diagnoses —differently. However, some companies are more accommodating than others if you have a mental health condition.

Methodology: How we chose the best life insurance companies for people with mental health conditions

Expand

We don't get paid for our company reviews and use an extensive rubric of criteria covering policy details, price, financial confidence, third-party ratings, and customer experience to assign unbiased ratings out of five stars. Any recommendations we make are based on internal and external expert opinions and data from our Policygenius Price Index, which uses real-time rate data from leading life insurance companies to determine pricing trends.

Our ratings and reviews can help point you to an insurer you can rely on for your family’s financial protection, but the best life insurance company for you is dependent on multiple factors. A licensed agent at Policygenius can work with you through the application process so you’re getting coverage from the best insurer for your circumstances at the most competitive price.

→ Read more about our reviews methodology here

Best overall

Prudential

3.4

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Prudential logo

One of the top life insurance carriers for people with mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

Pros

  • High financial ratings

  • Competitive underwriting for a range of medical conditions

  • Comprehensive online resources

Cons

  • Very high premiums

  • Mixed customer ratings

For conditions that are moderate to severe, Prudential is more likely to offer a more favorable health rating than other insurers. They also tend to offer more affordable rates even if you have more than one mental health condition. And if your condition is mild and well-controlled, Prudential may offer you even the best rates — as long as you otherwise qualify for coverage. 

Best life insurance for depression

Lincoln Financial

4.7

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Lincoln Financial logo

Lincoln Financial offers several policy options with quick decisions and affordable rates for shoppers of all age ranges, including people with depression.

Pros

  • No-medical-exam option available

  • Fast turnaround

Cons

  • Expensive permanent policies

  • Few online tools

Lincoln offers favorable rates if you are on no medication, one medication, or two medications for depression. If your condition is mild, you can apply with Lincoln's non-medical option as well.

Best life insurance for anxiety disorders

AIG

4.6

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

AIG logo

With competitive pricing and a range of flexible term periods for its Select-a-Term product, AIG is a solid option for many people, including those with anxiety.

Pros

  • Competitive pricing for all ages

  • Customizable term policies

  • Affordable options for common health conditions

  • Strong financial confidence

Cons

  • Below average customer ratings

  • No no-medical-exam options available

AIG is one of the most accommodating insurers for people with anxiety. The company can offer you some of the best rates even if you are on up to two different medications to treat your condition, assuming you otherwise qualify for coverage.

Best life insurance for bipolar disorder

4.7

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Banner logo

Banner has some of the longest term lengths and most competitive life insurance rates, even for people with a history of medical conditions, including bipolar disorder.

Pros

  • Very competitive rates

  • Covers many health conditions

  • Term lengths up to 40 years

Cons

  • Strict temporary coverage eligibility

  • Reconsideration is paid for by the applicant

Banner Life can be a bit more flexible than other insurance companies for bipolar disorder. Like other companies, they will require you to take a medical exam and take a look at your health records to determine how well you’re managing your condition.

Best no-medical-exam life insurance for people with mental health conditions

Brighthouse Financial

4.6

Policygenius rating

How we score: Policygenius’ ratings are determined by our editorial team. Our methodology takes multiple factors into account, including pricing, financial ratings, quality of customer service, and other product-specific features.

Brighthouse Financial  logo

Brighthouse is an affordable option if you have a well-controlled mental health condition such as anxiety, depression, or ADHD. The company also offers a non-medical application process that can provide a quicker path to approval.

Pros

  • Fast-tracked coverage with SimplySelect

  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Only few term lengths available

  • No rate reconsideration

Brighthouse Financial offers an instant decision option that leads to a quicker turnaround time. It offers competitive life insurance coverage rates, comprehensive coverage, and application decisions in as little as 24 hours.

How much does life insurance cost if you have a mental health condition?

Mental health conditions can affect your physical well-being and ability to complete day-to-day tasks, so they are considered a health risk by insurers. Life insurance providers vary in how they weigh those risks and set your premiums. 

Generally, your premiums will be more expensive if you have:

  • More severe diagnoses

  • Inconsistent treatment records

  • Health issues linked to your mental health 

  • Recent or multiple hospitalizations

20-year term life insurance rates for people with depression

AgeSexNon-smokerSmoker
25Female$26.46$65.75
Male$33.09$84.26
35Female$31.94$89.64
Male$38.24$110.97
45Female$62.09$194.79
Male$78.76$263.79
55Female$139.05$428.36
Male$195.11$610.04

Methodology: Monthly rates are calculated for male and female smokers and non-smokers in Preferred and Standard health classifications, obtaining a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from AIG, Banner, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica and may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 6/6/2022.

20-year term life insurance rates for people with anxiety

AgeSexNon-smokerSmoker
25Female$19.29$58.03
Male$24.07$73.27
35Female$22.87$77.93
Male$27.15$93.36
45Female$44.32$164.24
Male$55.66$224.71
55Female$100.99$364.87
Male$138.94$526.59

Methodology: Monthly rates are calculated for male and female smokers and non-smokers in Preferred and Preferred Plus health classifications, obtaining a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from AIG, Banner, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, and Transamerica and may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 6/6/2022.

20-year term life insurance rates for people with bipolar disorder

AgeSexNon-smokerSmoker
25Female$58.65$136.96
Male$73.82$180.87
35Female$73.53$195.34
Male$89.14$250.68
45Female$147.99$432.74
Male$186.2$599.63
55Female$336.68$986.34
Male$470.72$1395.32

Methodology: Monthly rates are calculated for male and female smokers and non-smokers in Substandard T4 health classifications, obtaining a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy. Life insurance averages are based on a composite of policies offered by Policygenius from AIG, Banner, Mutual of Omaha, Pacific Life, Protective, Prudential, SBLI, Symetra, and Transamerica, and may vary by insurer, term, coverage amount, health class, and state. Not all policies are available in all states. Rate illustration valid as of 6/6/2022.

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How mental health diagnoses affect your health classifications

The table below reflects whether people diagnosed with depression or anxiety can qualify for the most favorable health classifications with each of our partner insurance companies:

CompanyAnxietyDepression
AIGYes, with up to 2 medicationsNo
BannerYes, with up to 1 medicationYes, with up to 1 medication
BrighthouseYes, with up to 1 medicationPossible, with a mild diagnosis
LincolnYes, with up to 2 medicationsYes, with up to 1 medication
Mutual of OmahaPossible, with 1 medicationNo
Pacific LifeNoNo
ProtectiveYes, with up to 1 medicationYes, with up to 1 medication
PrudentialYes, with up to 2 medicationsYes, with up to 1 medication
SBLIPossible, with up to 1 medicationYes, with up to 1 medication
SymetraPossibleNo
TransamericaPossibleNo

Methodology: Based on underwriting data provided by Policygenius partner insurers as of June 2022. 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 charts above are just guidelines. The best way to find the right coverage option for your personal situation is to work with an independent broker. At Policygenius, our experts are licensed in all 50 states and can walk you through the entire life insurance buying process while offering transparent, unbiased advice. 

If you don’t fit the medication guidelines, some insurance companies will offer an improved health classification if you have a mild diagnosis and can demonstrate that you have a steady treatment history. And even if you don’t qualify for a competitive classification, you can still get covered — your rates will just be slightly higher.

What happens if your mental health changes?

Any changes to your mental health won’t have any impact on your life insurance coverage after you’ve purchased your policy. Your rates will remain the same as long as you keep paying the premiums. 

If your mental health worsens shortly before or during your application process, it may impact your approval odds or your rates — you might be denied coverage, or your premiums might become too expensive. But you’ll still have options. After you find a treatment plan that works for you and maintain it for a year or two, you can try to apply again. 

On the other hand, if your mental health significantly improves, you may want to shop around for a new policy to confirm you are getting the best rates possible. 

In both of these situations, insurance companies generally like to see consistent and effective treatment for at least six months to one year. If you are in the middle of switching medications or treatment, they may ask a few more questions about your health to determine your rates.

Can your life insurance policy be canceled?

Yes, if you lie during the application process, your insurance company  can cancel your policy and deny your beneficiaries the death benefit once the truth is discovered. This penalty applies even after the contestability period, which allows your insurer to review your application for evidence of fraud if you pass away in the first two years of your policy. It also applies if you die by suicide after the suicide clause period ends.

Always be completely forthcoming with your life insurance company. Standard medical record checks during the application process will reveal your prescription and diagnosis history even if you don’t disclose them.

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What life insurance options do you have if you can’t qualify? 

You may be declined traditional term or whole life insurance coverage if you have a severe or untreated mental health condition, or recent hospitalizations due to self-harm or panic attacks. However, you still have life insurance coverage options. These include: 

  • Guaranteed issue life insurance: Guaranteed issue is a type of whole life insurance aimed at covering final expenses. These policies are significantly more expensive than term life insurance and have age restrictions, but they offer almost-certain approval and don’t require a medical exam to qualify.

  • Group life insurance: Policies offered by your employer are affordable and rarely require medical screening, but your coverage amount will be limited, and you’ll lose coverage if you leave your company.

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

If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential.

Frequently asked questions

Can you get life insurance with a mental health condition?

Yes. Depending on your diagnosis and how well-managed it is, you may even be eligible for an insurer’s most affordable premiums.

How can depression and anxiety affect your life insurance rates?

You will have higher premiums if you have a more severe diagnosis or an inconsistent treatment history. The less your diagnosis impacts your daily life, the more favorable your rates will be.

Do you have to disclose your mental health condition 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.

Will you be denied life insurance if you have anxiety or depression?

You can be denied coverage if your mental health makes it difficult for you to work, or if you’ve been hospitalized in the last year due to self-harm or a panic attack. However, you can still qualify for non-traditional policies like guaranteed issue life insurance.

Can someone with bipolar disorder get life insurance?

Yes, you can get life insurance if you have bipolar disorder, provided you have a treatment plan that works for you. The insurance company will ask you about your treatment plan and very likely request an attending physician statement (APS). If your bipolar disorder prevents you from working or impedes your daily function, it may be best to see a doctor and get consistent treatment before applying.

Does going to therapy affect life insurance?

No, going to therapy should not negatively impact your life insurance policy. Insurance companies are even more likely to give you a better rate if you are in therapy and have a mental health diagnosis, because it demonstrates that you are taking proactive care of your condition.