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

6 min Read Published: 19 Oct 2021

can i get life insurance if i have depressionThe short answer is yes, but it will depend on a number of factors. 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?'

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

A life insurance company will often ask the following questions relating to depression/mental illness:

  • When was the most recent episode?
  • Are you on (or have you been on) any medication? If so, what medication were you taking and for how long?
  • When were you initially diagnosed?
  • Was there an event that triggered the diagnosis?
  • Have you had any suicidal thoughts or instances of self-harm?
  • Have you had any time off of work (or been unable to carry out daily activities if you are not working)

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

There are four possible outcomes and they are as follows:

  • You will be accepted with no increase applied to your premiums
  • You will be accepted with an increase applied to your premiums (referred to as a rating)
  • You will be postponed
  • You will be declined

We have given four examples in our table below which could lead to each of the possible outcomes:

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

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

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, 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.

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. The underwriting process can vary depending on which insurer you apply through and so we would always recommend that you speak to an independent specialist. Our section 'Which is the best life insurance company if I have depression, anxiety or mental illness?' explains more

If you have indicated that you have suffered from depression, all insurers will ask whether you have had suicidal thoughts. Our research shows that Legal and General are more lenient with their underwriting stance in this area.

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 offer cover to you. Each insurer has its own unique underwriting process 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. Jump to the next section, which explains more about applying for life insurance using an independent specialist.

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 'Key Features' document. We have shown an example of a suicide clause below.

Royal London Suicide clause:

During the first year of your policy, which begins on the start date shown on your policy schedule, we won’t pay a claim for suicide. We also wouldn’t pay a claim if your death is a result of your own intentional actions. This would include if you attempt suicide and survive, but later die from complications relating to your attempt. This would also apply in the first year of your policy were you to suffer a terminal illness as a result of your own intentional actions. We will, using our reasonable opinion, decide the most likely cause of death or terminal illness. Based on that we will decide whether to pay a claim. We won’t necessarily rely on what is shown on a death certificate or coroner’s report – or an equivalent of these. If we reasonably believed you’d died or suffered a terminal illness as a result of your intentional actions, we would cancel the policy and not pay any claim. We also wouldn’t refund any payments you had made to us.

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 and 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 an independent 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.

Comparison sites and online calculators are not sophisticated enough to understand the complexity of depression and mental illness. They do not go into the level of detail that is required to get an accurate quote and may result in you applying through an insurer that will significantly increase your premiums or even worse, decline your application. 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 even be able to 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 into trust.

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 they are unable to offer a suitable policy or are unable to save you money on your current policy, they will simply recommend that you stick with what you have. 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.

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 an independent 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?'


If a link has an * beside it this means that it is an affiliated link. If you go via the link, Money to the Masses may receive a small fee which helps keep Money to the Masses free to use. The following link can be used if you do not wish to help Money to the Masses and do not wish to qualify for the cashback referred to in the article - LifeSearch