Can I get life insurance with depression, anxiety or mental illness?

8 min Read Published: 02 Oct 2023

can i get life insurance if i have depressionYes, but it will depend on your specific condition, symptoms, treatment and how it affects your daily life. If you are thinking of applying for life insurance and suffer from, or have a medical history of depression, make sure you read this article in full before you make an application as it can save you both time and money.

In this article, we tell you everything you need to know, including the questions the insurance companies will ask you, which insurance companies are likely to offer the best cover and also the cheapest way to apply for life insurance if you have or have previously suffered from depression.

If you already know your stuff and simply want to know the cheapest way to buy life cover, jump to 'Which is the best life insurance company if I have depression, anxiety or mental illness?'.

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Can you get life insurance with depression?

Yes, many people with depression or who have had depression in the past will still qualify for life insurance and while it may not be easy to arrange, we explain how to prepare for your life insurance application and get expert help to buy your life insurance policy. Depression, like many mental health conditions such as anxiety and stress can vary in severity, impact and treatment and insurance companies assess your individual health and circumstances before making a decision to offer life cover.

What questions will a life insurance company ask about my depression, anxiety or mental illness

Although insurance companies often request a doctor's report to confirm your medical history, when it comes to depression and other mental health conditions, insurers tend to favour asking you questions directly. Of course, if you do not wish to answer these, you can state this and the insurer will revert to your GP surgery. However, before doing this, consider the impact of missing information - although doctors keep a good record of your health when it comes to your mental health, there is information that you may be able to add to your life insurance application that does not feature in your doctor's report. Sometimes, the triggers and circumstances surrounding your depression diagnosis may make for a more positive case that means your life insurance is accepted and we explain this further, below.

Questions you may be asked about depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions

  • What is your diagnosis?
  • When did you first experience symptoms?
  • When did you last experience symptoms?
  • What treatment have you had (if any)?
  • Were your symptoms triggered by an event in your life?
  • Have you had any suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or instances of self-harm?
  • What impact does your mental health condition have on your daily duties?

Your answers to the above questions will determine whether you can be offered life insurance and how much this will cost.

How does depression, anxiety or mental illness impact life insurance premiums?

The cost of your life insurance could be affected by mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety but equally, you may find that you do not have to pay more for your life insurance because of them. Also, if the cost of your life insurance is increased due to your current or historical mental health, you can review this if your mental health improves as long as you bear in mind that life insurance gets more expensive with age.

When you apply for life insurance with depression, anxiety or another mental health condition disclosed, there are four possible outcomes as follows:

  • Accepted with no increase applied to your premiums
  • Accepted with an increase applied to your premiums
  • Decision postponed for 1, 3, 6 or 12 months
  • Application declined

If the cost of your life insurance is increased due to mental health, the increase amount can vary from an additional 50% of the original cost of the life cover to 300%. Understanding this is helpful as you may find that one insurance company will apply a smaller increase to the cost of your life insurance than another.

We have given four examples of how mental health conditions including depression affect your life insurance application outcomes in our table below.

Life insurance outcomes based on history of depression, anxiety or other mental health condition

Age Diagnosed Most recent episode Trigger Medication Suicidal Thoughts Time off of work Decision Premium
30 5 years ago Work Stress None No None No Increase applied £7.94
32 Ongoing, well-controlled Relationship breakdown & general anxiety Yes No 8 weeks Increase applied £11.91
35 Ongoing Undiagnosed Yes No 16 weeks Postpone N/A
20 Ongoing Multiple Yes Yes 15 years Decline N/A

Based on a 35-year-old non-smoker applying for £200,000 level term assurance over 25 years

Will a life insurance company speak to my doctor about my depression, anxiety or mental illness?

It is possible that a life insurance company will write to your GP as long as you consent to this, however it is not always the case. It would likely depend on the amount of information you can provide about your condition. If you are able to give clear information such as dates and types of medication then a life insurance company can often make a decision purely from the information you provide.

Underwriters who assess your life insurance application look at your health in the round so it is useful to add information about your personal circumstances. If, for example, you suffered from a period of stress that was caused by your work situation and that has since changed, this could affect your life insurance application positively. Equally, if your mental health has deteriorated due to a bereavement or personal challenge, underwriters will view this sensibly as it can paint a fuller picture of your circumstances suggesting that you will make a full recovery in time if you haven't already.

Can I get life insurance if I take medication for depression?

Yes, as our table above shows, you can get life insurance if you take medication for depression.

There are certainly some types of medication that may carry risks due to the side effects that they can cause over short or long-term use. This must be weighed up by the underwriter and the use of medications such as lithium which is sometimes used to treat more severe mental health conditions including bipolar disorder may affect your life insurance application more than others such as fluoxetine and citalopram. Again, the medication that you take is only part of the overall assessment so it won't stop you from getting life insurance in of itself.

The underwriting process can vary depending on which insurer you apply with and so we would always suggest that you speak to a life insurance specialist* to avoid wasting your time and energy applying to an insurer with strict guidelines for mental health conditions.

If you have indicated that you have suffered from depression, all insurers will ask whether you have had suicidal thoughts.

Can I get life insurance if I have previously been declined for depression?

Yes, life insurance is a competitive market with many providers vying for your business and so even if you have been declined for mental illness, anxiety or depression by one company, another insurance company may be happy to accept your life insurance application. Each insurer has its own unique set of underwriting guidelines when it comes to pre-existing medical conditions so you should speak to an independent specialist as they have the knowledge and expertise to ensure you approach the insurance company that will provide the best cover. We explain how to arrange your life insurance using a life insurance expert broker who will increase your chances of getting life insurance with depression.

Which is the best life insurance company if I have depression, anxiety or mental illness?

Every life insurance company has a slightly different underwriting stance so not every insurer will treat you the same. I have worked in the life insurance industry for over 20 years and have seen many examples where a person has been declined insurance with one insurer but has been offered cover elsewhere.

The key is to understand which insurer is the best fit for your own personal circumstances and the best way to find that out is to speak to a life insurance specialist* who, having asked the right questions, will have the experience and knowledge to put you in touch with the best life insurance company based on your answers.

Life insurance comparison sites and online calculators usually ask for very basic information and can lead to disappointment when, after you have completed the whole questionnaire, the system either declines your application or refers you for manual underwriting. Most online life insurance applications cannot assess your health to provide you with the best and cheapest life insurance that is available for your particular circumstances.

We have personally vetted the services of one of the UK's leading insurance brokers*, which specialises in finding the most suitable cover for those with medical conditions such as depression, anxiety and mental illness.

An independent specialist will compare life insurance quotes but then also check the underwriting stance of those insurers that feature in their search before making a recommendation to you. They can help with the application process as they can chase the insurer on your behalf, speak to the doctor's surgery to chase up medical evidence (if necessary) and even help to put your policy in trust so that you can nominate your beneficiaries. The administrative side to applying for life insurance can be cumbersome but your adviser will work with their administrative staff to provide a much smoother experience for you.

To speak to an adviser, with no obligation to take things further, just fill in the form via the above link. The firm employs strong ethics and will only ever offer cover if it is the best policy to suit your needs. If you do end up arranging your life insurance with the specialists, you'll get up to £100 cashback as a Money to the Masses reader.

Does a life insurance policy cover suicide?

Most life insurance policies will pay in the event of a claim arising from suicide, however most will have a suicide clause that excludes any claims within the first 12-24 months of the policy going into force. A life insurance company will detail its suicide clause in its terms and conditions, often called a Plan/Policy document. We have shown an example of a suicide clause below.

Royal London Suicide clause:

We won't pay a claim if it’s the result of intentional self-inflicted injury, unless it’s a claim for death more than 12 months after your cover starts or restarts. If the cause of the claim is the death of the person covered, intentional self-inflicted injury means in our reasonable opinion the most likely cause of death is that the person covered took their own life, whether or not specifically shown as a verdict or cause of death in a death certificate, coroner’s report or other equivalent documentation.

You can read more information in our article, "Does life insurance pay out for suicide?".

Can I get critical illness insurance if I have depression, anxiety or mental illness?

The simple answer is yes, but it will likely depend on a number of factors such as the severity of your condition, whether you take any medication, how recent your last episode was and whether you have had any suicidal attempts or instances of self-harm. We would recommend that you speak to a life insurance specialist* who can use their extensive knowledge to ask the right questions and approach the most suitable insurance company based on the answers you give.

You can also find useful information in our article 'Can I get health insurance with depression, anxiety or mental illness?' if you are considering private medical insurance and if you're thinking of buying income protection to protect yourself against being unable to work then you'll find some vital information in our article 'Can I get sick pay insurance with depression, anxiety or mental illness?'

 

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