Many people who have or know someone who has bipolar disorder often wonder if they qualify for life insurance. In short, the answer is ‘yes’. However, just as with other types of high-risk health factors, there are limitations associated with this type of insurance cover.
Trying to obtain life insurance coverage when you have a diagnosis of Bipolar disorder can be very difficult, but it is not impossible. It will depend on many factors such as how effective the control methods are and the severity of the symptoms. The good news is that the majority of applicants can still qualify for a traditional life insurance cover, whilst the worst-case scenario will be denial or a guaranteed issue cover.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is frequently misrepresented and misunderstood in society. This leaves many people who have the diagnosis to feel intimidated at the idea of trying to get life insurance coverage.
What many fail to understand is that many people with this diagnosis can live normal lives and they are not negatively affected by their illness. Then, there are others who may have a sporadic episode and them to take medication so their symptoms stay under control.
It is clear that the two above examples are very different from each other, and this is why it is important to understand some things before you decide to apply for life insurance cover or critical illness cover.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Before discussing the limitations of getting life insurance with bipolar disorder, it is important to first understand what bipolar disorder is. When a person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the person exhibits mood swings that alternate from one extreme to another.
The person can show signs of being depressed, then express moments of happiness and finally becoming angry or irritable. In other words, it is a medical condition that affects a person’s mood.
Even though each person who is diagnosed with this disorder have symptoms that are unique to them, it can cause a lot of distress not only to the person who has the disorder, but also those around them. There are typically three stages that are associated with bipolar disorder:
- Feeling high (manic or hypomanic)
- Feeling sad (depressive)
- Potential psychotic symptoms (can occur during the depressive or manic episodes)
What Is Bipolar Life Insurance?
Typically, people who have bipolar disorder and are looking for life insurance are able to get the cover that they need. This cover can also be very competitive with standard rates.
However, just as with other types of mental health conditions, the exact rate that a customer will pay will be based on the frequency and severity of their symptoms. The rate will also take into consideration the type of treatment that a person has received or is currently receiving.
The majority of applicants for bipolar disorder life insurance cover will have to undergo a mandated GP or medical exam to provide evidence that they are being treated.
It can be challenging for insurers to underwrite this type of life insurance cover because the symptoms can be subjective. This means that the majority of insurers will assess the facts of each applicant’s case based on the risks and severity of their condition.
The terms associated with this type of cover will be determined based on whether or not the person has suffered from any major mental health issues over the past few years. Some of the issues the provider will look for are:
- Signs or evidence of alcohol abuse
- Signs or evidence of self-harm
- Signs or evidence of suicidal thoughts or attempts
The underwriters for the cover will also want to know if the person has received psychiatric counseling, treatment or if they have ever been admitted into a hospital for the disorder.
The applicant will also need to provide the underwriter with information about any medication they have been prescribed, specifically the dosage and the name of the medication. For example, if the applicant’s condition is severe with an increased frequency of regular symptoms, or with higher dosages of medications, then the underwriters may impose a higher rating for the life insurance cover.
Also, if the applicant has a history of very severe symptoms such as several suicide attempts, it is very likely that the life insurance provider may decide to deny the application.
Applicants who have applied for this type of cover in the past and the cover was either accepted with special consideration or denied, then many providers will review your application based on your current health.
This review process can take as little as one month or it can take as long as several months. During the review time, the underwriter will look over every aspect of your mental health condition. This includes management and severity.
Types of Life Insurance:
- Serious Illness Cover
- Mortgage Insurance
- Income Protection
- Term Insurance
Critical Illness Cover
The terms for this type of cover can range from minimal premium loading for mild to moderate conditions with little to no symptoms, to being denied for major symptoms such as hospitalisation, suicide attempts, psychiatric treatments, etc.
However, there is information available that shows that when life insurance providers offer bipolar critical illness cover, applicants are approved although they may have to pay a higher premium loading or have an exclusion in place for suicide/mental health.
Just as with life insurance cover, critical illness cover is based on many of the same factors that deal with diagnosis, treatment and medication. It is also based on any other issues that are related to the applicant’s symptoms.
Underwriting for bipolar critical illness cover is usually a lot more restrictive than bipolar life insurance cover. because of the extra risks associated with the claim when it comes to complications and other related conditions.
If you have ever applied for this type of cover previously and have been denied cover or was approved on special circumstances, you may want to have your case reviews to see if you can make improvements on the policy that you have or if you are able to get approved.
It is also important that you manage your disorder even after you are approved for life insurance cover. Bipolar life insurance providers will not only look at how severe your disorder is, but also how well it is being managed. Some life insurance providers will want a record of management efforts such as medication and therapy as a condition of continued cover.