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Life insurance and mental health
Did you know that every year, one in four people in England will suffer with a mental health condition ? Most of us have either personally struggled with our mental health, or know someone who has, and as with physical health conditions, mental health issues tend to get people thinking about the future, their families and their finances. Many who have faced mental health challenges worry that they can’t get life insurance, but in this guide we show you how you can get protected and how much your life insurance will cost.
- Can I get life insurance if I’ve suffered with my mental health?
- What will insurers ask?
- How much does life insurance cost?
Because everyone’s personal circumstances and medical history are completely different, it’s difficult to give a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question. But the great news is that most people who have struggled with their mental health can get life insurance, with some insurers accepting around 85% of all life insurance applicants with anxiety or depression immediately .
When it comes to life insurance, insurers need to understand whether your personal life expectancy could be impacted by things like your overall health and lifestyle choices. Why do insurers care about how long you’re expected to live? Well the shorter your life expectancy, the earlier you could make a claim on your policy, which impacts the price that insurers need to charge.
Many mental health conditions don’t actually impact life expectancy, and for that reason, most insurers can cover those with some form of mental health problem. In fact, often people with mental health issues are able to purchase life insurance at the same price as everyone else.
The exceptions are conditions that have led to suicide attempts, self-harm or hospitalisation. These are more severe cases, and therefore insurers may either increase the cost of life insurance or decline the application. It’s also worth being aware that most insurers won’t pay a claim for suicide in the first year of the life insurance policy.
When you apply for a life insurance policy, insurers will ask questions about ‘pre-existing conditions’, these are medical conditions that you’ve either faced in the past or are suffering with currently. Insurers will want to know about any condition that’s affected your mood or behaviour, conditions like depression, anxiety, stress, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Insurers will usually ask the following questions:
- When were you diagnosed and how long have you been living with the condition?
- How often and how much does the condition affect you? For example, does it impact your day-to-day work life?
- Are you taking any medication for the condition? And for how long?
- Have you ever been hospitalised for the condition, self-harmed or attempted to commit suicide?
Insurers may need to gather additional information from your GP, and your personal medical records, in order to get a better understanding of your mental health condition.
Sadly, there are still a number of mental health stigmas that can sometimes make people feel uncomfortable or embarrassed when talking about their mental health challenges. In a 2019 report, entitled Let’s Start Talking, LifeSearch combined a UK-wide research project with tales from LifeSearchers on the front line to drill into the truths, misconceptions and myths around mental health and life insurance .
One standout message when it comes to life insurance generally, but particularly when discussing it alongside mental health, is that it’s vital to be honest and truthful about your circumstances, history and reality. We know it’s difficult. In our Let’s Start Talking report, it turned out that 15% of the UK answered I don’t know when asked if any family members suffer/ suffered from mental health issues. The subject can still be taboo - even among families.
Still, insurers can refuse to pay claims if they find out a customer hasn’t been honest about their health, which in turn would deny your loved ones of an insurance payout when they needed it most. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s always best to talk truth.
Our friendly advisers have years of experience working with people who have mental health conditions, helping them find life insurance and protect their families. Download our Let’s Start Talking report to meet some of the LifeSearchers on the front line and, for a confidential conversation about your needs, call us on 0800 316 3166.
The cost of life insurance depends on a number of factors, including:
- Your age
- Whether you smoke
- How long the policy lasts, and;
- How much cover you want
Your health will also have a part to play, both physical and mental. According to the insurer, Royal London, 89% of applicants with mental health conditions receive ‘standard terms’ for Life Cover , which means that they are charged exactly the same as people without mental health issues.
To work out exactly what to charge, insurers need to understand how severe your mental health condition is, and also how it impacts your life. For example, some conditions are linked with lifestyle choices that can lead to poor health, like drug and alcohol misuse. In these cases, the insurer might increase the premium they charge to reflect the increased risk.
If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health and are considering life insurance, you should take some time to do your research. Insurers have different views when it comes to mental health conditions and will often charge different premiums. At LifeSearch, we’re proud to be the largest UK specialist protection broker, which means that we work closely with top UK insurers and really understand what they can offer to people facing mental health challenges.
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Katie is an independent insurance consultant who is passionate about protection and wants to share that passion with others through engaging marketing content. She hopes that one day people will get as excited about protecting themselves and their loved ones, as she does!See all articles by Katie Crook-Davies
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