Life Insurance with Depression…Everything You Need to Know
Whether mild seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.) or a more serious form, if you are interested in learning about obtaining life insurance with depression, you are in the right place.
When you're dealing with clinical depression, you know about the everyday challenges that you face. What you may not know is that obtaining life insurance with depression will also have it's challenges.
When applying for life insurance with depression, carriers will want to know as much as they can about the risk they are being asked to insure. This is no different than how the carriers deal with any other condition like high blood pressure and hyperthyroid or lifestyle choices like marijuana use or or scuba diving.
The purpose of this article is to provide a background on the information insurers will require of you, and answer any questions you may have about how to obtain life insurance with depression at the best price possible.
If you already know more than you ever wanted to about depression, or you know exactly what you are looking for, you can use the quick navigation tool to skip around.
Fast Facts about Depression
The Mayo Clinic defines depression as “ a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
Clinical or “major” depression isn't a weakness and you can't simply "snap out" of it. More than just a bout of the blues, depression may require long-term treatment.
Depression affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. It can cause trouble doing normal day-to-day activities.
What Life Insurers Will Take Into Consideration
When applying for life insurance with depression, or any other condition, underwriters will generally be concerned with some basic questions:
- Do you fit into the usual risk factors for the condition
- What are/were your syptoms
- What was the Diagnosis & Treatment
- What is the aftercare (follow up & compliance)
- What is your health like apart from the condition/history in question
While the outline above is general in form , the questions will require specific answers. These answers will be gathered from your application, a telephone interview, the Medical Information Bureau, a Script Check, and an attending physicians statement (APS).
Lets look at the general areas of inquiry one at a time.
Do you "fit" into the usual risk factors for Depression
Due to the myriad contributors to depression, other than scrutinizing drug and alcohol use, this is not a factor.
The reason it matters with most conditions is that underwriters are more comfortable with making offers when an applicant fits into a common pattern. If the condition doesn't fit, there as a real possibility that something else is at play. When this is the case, underwriters will try to allay their fears by taking a harder look at the file.
What are/were your Depression Symptoms
Underwriting will want to know the symptoms you had (if any) and how long you had them before the diagnosis.
Below, from the National Institutes of Health is is a list of some of the signs and symptoms that major depression is afoot:
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
Decreased energy or fatigue
Moving or talking more slowly
Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight changes
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Your Diagnosis and Treatments
Life insurance underwriters will want to know the date of first diagnosis and of any subsequent major flare-ups. Underwriting will also want to know what medications you have been prescribed for depression.
A quick look as WebMD list the following drugs commonly prescribed for depression:
- Trcyclic anti-depressants
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors
- serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
To see a list of names (brand & generic) of drugs that fall into these categories please see WebMD.
While information that is "foggy" will be taken from your medical records, knowing the dates of diagnosis and treatments is necessary to get an accurate quote for life insurance with depression.
Your Follow Up Care
For Life insurance with depression, underwriters will want to see that you have been compliant with prescription medication and any follow up requirements including doctors appointments.
In addition to taking prescription medications, dietary simprovement and supplementation are often encouraged by physicians. For a brief write up of homeopathic suggestions see Dr. Lissa Rankin's article in Psychology Today.
Your Over all Health (and related conditions)
While any application for life insurance with depression will take into consideration your overall health including conditions like high cholesterol and gout, underwriters in depression cases will specifically look for certain related conditions.
Among the related conditions of special concern to underwriters are
For a full discussion of related orders (not necessarily of concern to underwriting visit Anxiety and Depression Association.
The world of manic depression is a world of bad judgment calls"
Obtaining Life Insurance With Major Depression
With a couple of caveats, the process of obtaining life insurance with depression is essentially the same as for any other condition.
The primary caveats with major depression are that no exam or so called “non-med” policies will only be available in very small face amounts and an attending physician's statement (APS) is guaranteed to be requested.
The APS can slow the process as doctors are seldom in a hurry to respond to requests from life insurance companies.
The information that you will be required to provide in order to get the most accurate quote is as follows:
Date of Diagnosis
Age at Diagnosis
Treatments Undergone- This will require a list of any pharmaceutical drugs being taken as well as any recent prescription changes.
Dates of Treatments-This will include any hospitalizations as well as evidence of compliance.
Severity of Symptoms
Other Health Issues
Possible Underwriting Ratings with Depression
Because applications for life insurance with depression are evaluated on a case by case basis, your story always matters. That is to say two people with the same age and condition may get vastly different offers from the same carrier based on age of diagnosis and patient compliance.
Because each case is different, the following pricing scenarios are the best estimates based on experience.
Best Case – If Depression is mild, symptoms are under excellent control and there is good compliance, some cases have a chance for a standard rating. Simply use the quoter on the left for a standard quote.
Mid Case –If your Depression seems to be mild with only the use of moderate antidepressant pharmaceuticals and good compliance you may be looking at a mid substandard rate. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 1.5 (Table 2/B) or 2 (Table 4/D).
To learn about how table ratings work click here.
Severe Case – If your Depression symptoms are severe and you have a need for chronic maintenance drugs and/or you have a history that includes suicide attemps/thoughts, , the best you will likely do is a severe substandard rate. You calculate this rate by multiplying the standard rate by 3 (table 8/H).
* while expensive this is still a very good outcome for the circumstances
Decline– For a severe case you may be declined for traditional coverage. If this is the case you may be eligible for a smaller face amount policy. These policies are referred to as Guaranteed issue or simplified issue. If you have been declined please contact us.
Why to use Independent Agent when Shopping for Life Insurance with Depression?
Now you already understand that your story matters, and that two people in similar situations can get very different offers from the same carrier.
What you might not know is that different insurance companies will also treat each case differently.
For example Lincoln Financial may have more of an appetite for the risk that life insurance with depression presents than say AIG. In this case the underwriting grade will reflect this increased appetite.
So, if your Agent only represented one carrier and you found out later that that you could have gotten a rate 35% or 45% better, how would you feel?
You’d probably be mad either at the agent or yourself or both. So it’s important that your Agent represent multiple carriers.
In fact a good independent agent will have access to over 50 carriers. This ensures the best chance at a good rate.
Note, that if he doesn’t, he may not be in a such hurry to let you in on this info.
Case Study Pricing Policies with Depression
So, I have been preaching about the importance of using an independent Agent and you may think that sounds a bit self serving coming from an independent agent.
You’re right, it is. However, it is also the (provable) truth.
Please see the case study below . it will show why it is in your interest to have as many options as possible available when shopping for life insurance with Depression or any other impairment.
Gender: Male Age: 45
$500000 20 Year Term
Controlled Depression Diagnosed Age 39
Uses 2 RX No Other Health Concerns
This looks like a best case scenario that could be either standard or Table 2/B or 4/D depending on the insurers appetite for a Depression risk.. Let’s take a look at the rates.
Standard Rates - Table 2/B Rates - Table 4/D Rates
*Rates as of 12/10/2016
This table which shows only a few of the major life insurance companies available illustrates the difference in rates. For standard rates Assurity is 33% more expensive than Protective.
On it’s face this seems like a pretty straight forward choice and if underwriting grades between carriers is the same, it really can be that simple.
This kind of easy price shopping is particularly useful for younger folks in good health and demonstrates why you want to use an independent Agent.
For people who suffer from Depression or any other serious diagnosis, it gets much more complicated.
Because life insurers manage their appetite for specific risks by being more lenient or more stringent with underwriting grades, you need to know which company will grade you a standard or table 2 risk and which ons will grade you as table 4-6.
In the case above Prudential (the second most expensive standard rate) is likely to be the best deal because the more competitively priced carriers will likely rate the risk table 2/ 4 while Pru might well go standard.
This is something you can’t know by simply looking at the lowest price. In this case using an independent agent could save you 38% (the difference between Prudential @ standard and Banner @ Table 4).
Key Take Aways
- Different carriers view specific risks differently. Therefore access to multiple carriers will result in better pricing.
- Only independent brokers have the freedom to offer the best deal at all times.
Your Next Step
Now that you know the information you will need to receive the most accurate quote possible, it’s time to gather the information and speak to an independent Agent (raising my hand).
Simply give us a call or shoot an email over and we can get you started.
We are committed to totally transparent pricing (we’ll even share our computer screen with you if you’d like), and making the application process as painless as possible.
Thank you for reading about life insurance with depression, if you have any questions, We’d like to hear them.