It is well-known that pre-existing conditions can influence life insurance premiums, but can a history of depression affect life insurance eligibility? Get the facts here.

If an individual has been diagnosed with depression, it may affect his or her chances for life insurance coverage. Insurance providers see depression as an existing condition—much like blood pressure—and provide coverage based on the risk. Insurance companies divide levels of risk into health classes – typically Standard, Preferred and Preferred Plus.

Why Does Depression Affect Life Insurance Coverage?

Because there’s such a wide range of diagnoses when it comes to depression, insurance providers will assess the severity to determine the coverage. For example, mild depression that comes from grief due to a death in the family is typically classified as “situational,” and may be classified above Standard. On the other hand, if a person has had a history of suicidal thoughts or actions, they are likely to be denied coverage due to the high risk they pose. Another disqualifying condition would be if the individual self-medicates with drugs and/or alcohol to treat their depression. It is rare for anyone with a history of depression to get “preferred best” status.

A history of depression does not necessarily disqualify an individual from receiving life insurance coverage. Providers will look at other factors that indicate the individual has their depression under control, such as seeking treatment (therapy, medication), healthy living, a responsible diet, exercise and regular visits to their doctor. Specific factors insurance companies look for—which will negatively affect the chance of coverage— include: number/severity of depressive episodes per year, changes in medication, alcohol and substance abuse, and, of course, hospitalization or a history of suicide.

Improving Chances of Obtaining Coverage

When applying for life insurance, there are many things that a person suffering from depression can do to make the process easier. Providing doctors’ notes that outline history of medications, ailments, and current treatment will appear favorably to insurance companies. Documentation for therapy is also helpful. Transparency is key; life insurance providers will see this as a sign the individual is responsible, and has a desire to keep their ailment in check.

Coverage is determined by a case-by-case basis, and providers will sometimes downgrade the severity based on efforts the individual makes to control his or her depression. Thorough documentation of medications used while applying could upgrade the applicant from “standard” to “preferred” status, thereby reducing the price of the premium. However, those with severe symptoms, such as history of suicide or PTSD, will likely be denied coverage.

Start with a Quote

Each insurance company has different standards and procedures for approving individuals for life insurance coverage, and each application is viewed on a case-by-case basis. If you have suffered from depression in the past and are concerned about your ability to obtain life insurance coverage, don’t let that discourage you from applying. Start by getting fast, accurate quotes from our quote engine and compare the policies that may work best for you.