How does a mental health condition affect life insurance?

23 March 2021

There is more awareness about mental health these days, but if you're experiencing mental health challenges, what does it mean for your life insurance? In this guide, we'll explain why your mind matters when it comes to taking out a life insurance policy.

What is a mental health condition?

A mental health condition, sometimes referred to as a mental illness, refers to health problems that can affect your wellbeing, emotions, thinking and behaviours. Symptoms of a mental health condition can include anxiety, stress, fear, anger, low mood, sadness and depression.

Examples of mental health conditions:

There is a broad range of mental health conditions that can have an impact on our emotional wellbeing, psychological behaviour and mood. Here are just some examples:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Phobias
  • Psychosis
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder

It's important that if you are experiencing a mental health condition, you get a diagnosis from your GP. You can use this information when applying for life insurance, as we will explain later.

How does a mental health condition affect life insurance?

One in four adults experience mental health problems, so life insurance providers are used to assessing applications from people with a history of mental illness. The main way a mental health condition can affect life insurance is during the underwriting process. You will need to give truthful information about your mental health when you apply for life insurance, otherwise, the policy may not pay out.

Can you get life insurance with a mental health condition?

Yes, it is possible to get life insurance with a mental health condition, but the decision is made based on the nature of the condition and your most recent medical history. Where customers have told us about their anxiety, depression or stress - or a combination of these - Legal & General have accepted 82.5% of applications at standard rates*. This means there has been no increase to premiums based on medical disclosure. For others we may offer cover, but the life insurance premiums will cost more.

Unfortunately, there are circumstances where your mental health would affect your life insurance eligibility; for example, we're unable to cover you where there has been a recent increase in the severity of your condition.

[*based on a sample of 3,616 from September 2018]

Will my life insurance provider discriminate against me?

You are protected against disability discrimination by the Equality Act 2010, so no life insurance provider can lawfully treat you differently for having a mental health problem without good reason. For example, a provider is not obliged by law to offer you life insurance after learning of a mental health condition, but they will need to operate on the basis of information that's reasonable, reliable and relevant. Furthermore, if you disclose a mental health condition and a life insurance provider wishes to contact your doctor for your medical records, they can only do so with your written consent.

What mental health information do I need to provide?

If you experience mental health problems, or have done in the past, then when you apply for life insurance, you'll need to share with us the following information:

  • The name of the condition you've been told you have
  • The date you were diagnosed
  • Disclosure of hospital admissions and any specialist referrals
  • The severity and regularity of your symptoms
  • Information on how it affects your everyday life, such as absences from work
  • Any medication you take as well as the date you started

Life insurance and mental health - in summary

Having a mental health problem does not in itself mean you can't get life insurance, and Legal & General will consider all reasonable applications. If you're experiencing difficulties with your mood and wellbeing, mental health services are available through the NHS, but patients may need a referral from their GP beforehand.

Want to know more?

Mental health services are available through the NHS, but patients may need a referral from their GP beforehand.

Sources

www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/ 

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-mental-illness

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/insurance-cover-and-mental-health/your-insurance-rights/#DoIHaveToTellMyInsuranceProviderAboutMyMentalHealthProblem