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Does mental health affect my life insurance?

Issues surrounding mental health is something that many people will experience at some point in their lives. Today conversations around mental health are opening up as it’s becoming better documented and understood. There is every chance that when taking out a life insurance policy, an insurer may take your mental health history into account. Exactly how it can affect your policy can be a difficult question so we have put together a quick guide to help you understand what impact it may have.

In This Guide:

What is mental health/mental illness?

Mental health as a general term refers to your psychological and emotional wellbeing. Mental illness refers to a very wide range of conditions which has a negative effect on the way that you think and can play a large part in your mood and behaviour. While issues with mental health are not always as easy to diagnose as physical problems with the body, today they are recognised as an integral part of your overall health. Much like an illness with your body, mental illness can be diagnosed by a doctor who will be able to prescribe medication as well as dietary and behavioural advice to alleviate symptoms as well as deal with the root cause.

How might a mental illness affect me taking out life insurance?

Much like with any type of policy, when taking out life insurance an organisation will look at the risk of a claim being made and establish a premium based on that. The equality act of 2010 means that it’s against the law for any insurer to increase the cost of your policy simply because you have a mental illness unless that condition directly makes you a higher risk of claiming. If, for example, you have a history of bipolar but that has never caused you to put yourself in dangerous situations your policy may not be hugely affected. If however, you have a chronic history of severe depression you may end up paying more for your policy as you are deemed to be at a higher risk of making a claim. Some policies may hold certain stipulations in order for them to remain valid such as the applicant continuing to take medication in order to minimise risk.

If you are deemed to be especially high risk to an insurer then they do have the right to refuse your application on the high chance that you will make a claim. In some instances, you may be able to take out a policy but one that prevents a payout if the reason that you make a claim is a direct result of a pre-existing mental health condition, which in some circumstances would make the policy pointless.

You may also find that certain mental health conditions will make the process of taking out a policy very stressful. This may be due to discussing the condition itself or a symptom of the mental illness. If you find that the process is especially difficult it may be worth consulting a mental health charity who will be able to guide you in the right direction.

Do I need to disclose any history of mental illness when taking out a policy?

When you speak to an insurer you will be asked if you have any pre-existing medical conditions which can refer to either physical conditions or mental illnesses. Although there is no legal obligation to disclose certain information, withholding anything that may affect the policy will most likely result in it being void in case of that information coming to light. Insurers will also ask permission to look into your medical history when assessing your application and if there is some information you chose not to tell them, they may refuse your application altogether.

What information do I need to give to an insurer?

If you have had a history of mental illness, then an insurer will request access to your medical records and will generally ask for the following:

  • How you have been treated for your condition
  • Details of your symptoms and how frequent/long ago you had them
  • Whether or not your condition has affected your ability to work
  • When you were first diagnosed

Money Expert can compare quotes from insurance providers to help you find a life insurance deal that best suits your needs and budget. Make sure you pay attention to the terms and conditions before signing up for a policy especially if you have any concerns about how your history of mental health may affect the policy.