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Life insurance and mental health

This guide covers how psychological issues impact life cover. We look at life insurance for conditions such as depression, anxiety and bi-polar. As well as exploring what insurers might ask during your application.

What is a mental health condition?

Mental illness covers a wide range of conditions. It can be any disorder that affects your mood, behaviour or thinking. They are long-term disorders that often require treatment. Mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, bi-polar, schizophrenia, eating disorders and more.

Does life insurance cover mental health conditions?

Yes, you should be able to find a suitable policy if you have a mental health condition. This is inclusive of ongoing illnesses, but also episodes in the past.

Can you get life insurance if you have depression?

Life insurance for depression sufferers is available. Insurers know that over 10% of people are living with depression at any one time. If you’re currently depressed, it shouldn’t prevent you from getting cover. 

The insurer will want to know more about your condition. The responses given to these questions will help the insurer calculate your premiums. 

It’s always best to be as honest as possible. If you passed away and the insurer learnt you hadn’t disclosed information about your condition, they may decline a payout to your loved ones. 

How does mental health affect life insurance?

The way mental health and life insurance is assessed changes from one insurer to the next. Each provider has its way of calculating how much cover you need. 

For conditions, such as anxiety, life insurance premiums might not be affected. However, for more severe diagnoses you might pay more. If you are more likely to be in positions where your health or life is at risk, insurers may take this into account when calculating your premiums.

One insurer might say that anyone who has had depression has a higher possibility of an earlier payout so that person would pay higher premiums. A different insurer might look more in-depth. Say you had depression three years ago but are now fully recovered. They might decide you only need the same level of cover as someone who has never had a mental health condition. This is why it’s worth getting quotes from a few different insurers. 

There might be clauses in your policy relating to your mental health conditions. For example, if you have a history of self-harm, the insurer may place a period before you can make a claim. They may also have their own policies around suicide. For example, periods at the beginning of a policy where a payout wouldn’t be granted. Or, they might refuse to pay out for a death related to your condition at any time. 

If your mental health condition affects your ability to work, providers may query how you intend on paying your premiums. Many insurers expect customers to be working so they’ll be able to keep up-to-date on their payments.

Is a mental health condition considered a pre-existing medical condition?

Yes, having a mental health condition is considered a pre-existing medical condition. Insurers may ask about episodes you’ve recovered from and if you’re still diagnosed. Some insurers will have a no symptoms/recovered period where if you qualify, your condition won’t count as a pre-existing condition.

Applying for life insurance with a mental health condition

Mental illness is considered a disability by law (Equality Act 2010). That means it’s illegal to discriminate against people with a mental illness. Insurers can only ask certain types of questions. The questions have to be relevant to the cover you’re applying for. 

On the application, providers will most likely ask if you’ve had a mental health condition now or in the past. If you have, the insurer will ask for more details.

There will be some background questions. They’ll want to know what condition you’ve been diagnosed with and how long you’ve had it for. 

They will also ask about treatments. This is inclusive of both medicine and therapy. It might also refer to any time you’ve spent in hospital, clinics or mental health institutions. They may also ask some questions about your symptoms and episodes.

Insurers might ask how the condition affects your daily life. ‘Does it stop you from working?’, for instance. They could ask if you’ve had suicidal thoughts or if you’ve ever harmed yourself. 

Questions about your mental health can feel intrusive. But, insurers need to get a full picture of the state of your health. This puts your loved ones in the best-case scenario to receive your payout. Insurers will typically ask your GP for your medical records. If you had serious mental health issues that you didn’t tell the insurer about, they could refuse to payout. So, it’s essential information given to the insurer to calculate your cover is accurate.

Relevant guides and articles

  • Term life insurance

    Thinking about life insurance? Find out everything you need to know about term life cover and whether it suits your needs in this guide.  

  • Whole of life insurance

    Whole of life insurance guarantees a payout to your loved ones when you die. Find out how this cover can protect your family's financial security.

  • Life insurance premiums

    How are life insurance premiums calculated? Here’s everything you need to know about premiums, how they’re calculated and things to consider.