Approvals for Life Insurance with Depression – What to Expect

Our clients often ask us, “How does depression affect the cost of life insurance coverage?”

Depression affects everyone differently, and some cases of depression are more severe than others. This is why the life insurance companies review each applicant’s history of treatments and medications when they apply for coverage.

Statistically, depression has been linked to an increased mortality risk from drug abuse, increased chances for physical ailments, and risk of suicide. If you have been diagnosed with depression, it is very important to work with an insurance company that will consider you as an individual instead of lumping you into a category.

In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of depression, what the symptoms are, and what rates you’ll qualify for depending on your condition.

Quick Article Guide:

1. What is the Difference Between Clinical Depression and Situational Depression?
2. What are the Most Common Symptoms of Clinical Depression and How are They Classified?
3. What Questions Will My Life Insurance Agent Ask Me About My Depression When I am Shopping for Life Insurance?
4. Which Life Insurance Company Should I Apply With?
5. How We Can Help You Find the Best Rates on Your Life Insurance Policy

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What is the Difference Between Situational Depression and Clinical Depression?

Situational depression is usually caused by traumatic life events, and most people experience these feelings at least once in their life. Episodes of situational depression are generally triggered by events like losing a job or a loved one.

These feelings usually go away in time, with or without treatment. Most life insurance companies view situational depression more favorably than clinical depression.

Clinical depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness, worthlessness, or loss of interest. Clinical depression is viewed differently by life insurance companies because it can affect your ability to perform normal day-to-day activities, and it may lead to other physical and emotional problems.

Clinical depression can develop at any point in someone’s life, but it is most common for people to develop feelings of depression during their teens, 20’s or 30’s.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Clinical Depression and How Are They Classified?

There are several signs and symptoms that are associated with clinical depression. When diagnosing a patient with depression, most doctors will not diagnose a patient with clinical depression unless they show five or more commonly recognized symptoms.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with depression:

  • Constant feeling of sadness or hopelessness
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Feeling anxious or empty
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, weight gain, or weight loss
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Loss of interest in hobbies that one used to enjoy
  • Physical symptoms such as back pain, digestive issues, stomachaches, or headaches
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

While the signs and symptoms of depression may be similar, depression is usually classified by the frequency of occurrences, or the length of each occurrence.

We’ve outlined the most common types of depression that we typically encounter from our potential clients:

Clinical Depression – Clinical depression, also known as major depression, is the most common type of depression in the United States. Clinical depression causes feelings of sadness and worthlessness and typically lasts for more than two weeks.

Some patients may only experience major depression once in their life, but it is very common for patients with depression to experience several episodes throughout their lifetime. Major depression can have severe symptoms that can interfere with a person’s ability to work, eat, sleep, or enjoy the things that they used to enjoy.

Dysthymia – Dysthymia is also known as persistent depressive disorder. Dysthymia is usually diagnosed when one’s depressed mood lasts longer than two years. Most people with dysthymia are still be able to function in their day-to-day activities, and they may have less severe symptoms than a patient with major depression, but they are still unable to function optimally.

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder – Seasonal Affective Disorder occurs when a person feels depressed during the winter months due to the lack of sunlight. SAD normally lifts once the spring or summer arrives and can be diagnosed with light therapy, medication, or a combination of both.

What Questions Will My Agent Ask Me About My Depression When I am Shopping for Life Insurance?

what will agent ask depressionWhen applying for life insurance, your agent will ask you about any past or current treatments for depression. Every life insurance company views depression differently and some companies are more lenient than others.

An experienced agent will ask you some underwriting questions to make sure you are matched with the top-rated life insurance company that is able to offer you the lowest rates for your life insurance policy. It’s best to be honest and upfront with your agent because this will prevent you from applying with the wrong life insurance company.

How old were you when you were first diagnosed with depression, and when was your most recent episode?

Applicants that are otherwise healthy and have only had one mild (non-disabling) episode of depression will usually qualify for a “Preferred Best” rate. This is the least expensive life insurance rate class available and it is also available to applicants who have well-controlled depression.

Depression is classified as “well-controlled” if you have been on the same medication for more than a year, and you have no history of hospitalizations for your depression.

If you have had multiple episodes of moderate depression, you may qualify for a “Standard” rate class as long as there are no documented suicide attempts or evidence of suicidal thoughts in your medical records within the last 5 years. Life insurance companies will usually postpone an applicant’s application if they have had suicidal thoughts or suicidal attempts within the last 5 years.

What type of depression were you diagnosed with?

Patients that have been diagnosed with mild depression that has not caused them to miss work or qualify for disability can usually qualify for “Preferred Best” rates. Applicants with mild to moderate depression who have missed less than two weeks of work may still be able to qualify for standard to mild substandard rates, unless the depression was classified as situational.

Life insurance companies tend to be more lenient with applicants with situational depression. People with severe depression that has caused them to stop working or collect disability are usually ineligible for term life insurance, but they may qualify for up to $25,000 of Guaranteed Issue insurance.

Are you on medications for your depression? If so, which ones?

If you are in excellent health and do not take more than two medications to control your depression, you may qualify for “Preferred Best” rates with some insurance companies, as long as you do not take an antipsychotic medication. If your depression is considered to be well-controlled and you take three or more medications for your depression, you may still be eligible for “Standard” or “Preferred” rates as long as you do not have any other serious health issues.

Do you see a psychiatrist regularly?

Applicants with well-controlled depression that see a psychiatrist on a regular basis may qualify for “Preferred” rates as long as they are taking less than two medications and are not being treated for additional mood disorders such as anxiety or PTSD.

Have you been hospitalized for your depression?

If you have been voluntarily or involuntarily hospitalized for your depression, all of the insurance companies we work with will postpone your application for at least two years after your hospitalization. After the two-year waiting period is up, mild substandard to standard rates are possible if your condition is well controlled.

If your application is postponed, you may be able to qualify for up to $25,000 of Guaranteed Issue life insurance coverage, but these polices are only available for our applicants who are 50 or older.

Have you ever attempted suicide?

Suicide attempts are seen as a great risk to all of the life insurance companies. If you have attempted suicide in the past, you may want to consider Guaranteed Issue life insurance policy because you will likely be declined a traditional underwritten life insurance policy.

The only exception to this is if your suicide attempt was more than 10 years ago, and your condition has been considered “stable” and “well-controlled” since then.

Which Life Insurance Providers Are Best for People with Depression?

Every life insurance company sets their own underwriting guidelines which are used to evaluate an applicant’s overall risk to the insurance company. The less of a “risk” someone poses to the insurance provider, the lower their rates will be.

These are our top 5 life insurance companies for applicants with mild depression:

  • American General – Preferred rates are available to applicants with well-controlled depression, one medication or less.
  • Lincoln – Preferred rate classes may be are available to applicants with well-controlled depression.
  • Pacific Life – Preferred rate classes are available to applicants with mild to moderate depression, two medications or less. (No anti-psychotic medications)
  • Prudential – Preferred rates may be available to applicants taking two medications or less. (No anti-psychotic medications)
  • Transamerica – Applicants with mild, well-controlled, cases may qualify for preferred rates. (No psychiatric counseling or missed work due to depression)

If you have been diagnosed with moderate to severe depression, one of the companies listed above may not be your best option. Remember, every life insurance company sets their own underwriting guidelines, and they will consider other health and lifestyle factors before approving your policy.

Your overall health, family health history, travel history, and even your occupation can affect your life insurance rates. An independent agent can anonymously compare your risk profile with each life insurance provider’s guidelines to help you save time and money.

How We Can Help You Find the Best Rates on Your Life Insurance Policy

If you have been diagnosed with depression and are in the market for life insurance, we can help. Our agency works with more than 50 top-rated life insurance companies and each company has their own unique underwriting guidelines.

jrc can helpBy having access to so many companies and their guidelines, we’ll be able to match you with the insurance company that is the most lenient for your specific situation. Some of the companies we work with may even be able to provide you with underwriting credits if you make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent your depression from progressing.

Some life insurance companies also look favorably at applicants who get regular checkups, are active, eat healthy, and maintain a healthy weight. Give us a call today toll-free at 855-247-9555 or request a free quote online and compare rates from dozens of life insurance companies in less than a minute.

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Cliff Pendell

VP of Marketing at JRC Insurance Group
Cliff is a licensed life insurance agent and one of the owners of JRC Insurance Group. He has helped thousands of families of businesses with their life insurance needs since 2012 and specializes with applicants who are less than perfect health. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and the great outdoors.
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