What Drives The Life Insurance Risk With Bipolar Disorder?

The life insurance underwriting world is full of misconceptions, mostly because the average person doesn’t have access to and very likely wouldn’t understand the mortality and actuarial risk assessments that drive life insurance. And all too often life insurance underwriting and medical treatment and advice don’t match. Your doctor can say you’re doing just fine and he’s not lying to you. Life insurance underwriting might agree with the doctor, but they have to weigh the risk of setting aside hundreds of thousands, if not millions or hundreds of millions, of dollars. To put that in context and get them both on the same page, next time your doctor says you’re doing just fine, ask if they are willing to give your family a million dollars if you don’t make it to age 85.

So when we’re talking with someone who has come to us for help getting life insurance for bipolar disorder they usually assume that the underwriter’s greatest concern is suicide. If they have had suicidal thoughts or attempts in the past they often volunteer to exclude suicide if that would make the company feel better. And it makes sense. The general public doesn’t even know there is more than one type of bipolar disorder and assumes that someone with bipolar is a danger to themselves and possibly everyone they come in contact with.

That perception may match up with some poorly controlled people with bipolar I, but the majority of people who contact us are bipolar II and well managed. With these cases underwriters aren’t concerned with suicide, but rather those who aren’t consistent with their treatment and may be prone to manic episodes. The biggest life insurance risk underwriters are watching for is a lack of consistent control. Does the applicant do well for a year and then end up in the hospital for three days? Does he show great stability in his job and family life, but there’s that time he was trying to run back and forth through traffic on a freeway? What does it take to maintain control? One med is great. Four including an anti psychotic may still get an approval, but maybe not at as good a rate.

Do suicidal thoughts kill the deal with underwriters? If they are passive, or without intent, and not chronic, they may play into underwriting but if all else is going great, probably not likely to draw a decline. We’ve even had some good fortune with suicidal attempts in the past. But before we draw a crowd with that, let’s be clear that it had to have been in the distant past, preferably before diagnosis, and things had to have gone exceptionally well since.

And lastly there just isn’t too much that can be said about stability. No lost time from work. Stable job history. Stable marriage with successful child raising. No drinking or drug issues. No taking medication only if you’re feeling bipolar. If you have any questions or haven’t received the kind of treatment you think you deserve from a life insurance company, call or email us. We can help.


About the Author

Every year millions are needlessly declined for life insurance or approved and paying far more than they need to. For 14 years, I have specialized in turning those situations around and finding the right life insurance solution at affordable rates. I give every client the personal attention they deserve.

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