Life insurance Mental Health Guide 2024
If you have a mental health condition you might be wary of applying for life insurance, assuming it won’t be possible for you or it will cost too much. This isn’t usually true and in fact life insurance can often be both available and affordable in this situation.
However, life insurance rates will vary significantly between insurance providers, and some will simply work better than others for people with mental health conditions. In our independent guide to life insurance and mental health, we aim to answer all the top questions around what to expect when you apply and how to get the best price.
Getting life insurance for mental health is becoming easier, as many insurance providers are now much more understanding. In fact, if you speak to a medical life insurance expert your cover can be much cheaper than you might think.
60-Second Summary – Life insurance Mental Health Guide 2024 UK
Our independent experts have written this guide to provide the latest information on getting life insurance with mental health conditions. Our aim is to ensure you have all the right knowledge and facts to make informed decisions about your life cover.
- When applying for life insurance, the provider will likely ask some questions about your mental health diagnosis and treatment, so you get accurate terms and pricing.
- It’s important to be honest when answering any questions that the insurance provider asks, to make sure that your cover is suitable and valid.
- Life insurance underwriting for mental health will vary based on the specific condition that you have and the severity of your symptoms. This can also change over time, so you may be able to get cover now even if you couldn’t in the past.
- The cost of mental health life insurance will often be different depending on the insurance provider you speak to, so it’s important to check quotes from a few to know you’re paying a ‘fair price’.
- You may be able to save money on an existing policy too, by reviewing your cover with the help of a life insurance expert. It’s also best to check every few years that your policy still works well for the level of cover that you need.
Can I get life insurance with mental health conditions?
Having a mental health condition doesn’t need to stop you from getting life insurance and your cover may be far easier to get than you are imagining. The key is to make sure you are speaking to the right providers, who understand mental health and will offer reasonable prices.
In the UK, there are a range of mainstream and specialist providers available, so there will normally be at least one or two that will be able to help you. If you have fully recovered or have mild symptoms, it’s possible you could get covered through a standard insurer without any increases in cost.
Experiencing problems with our mental health can happen to anyone and this isn’t anything that we should be ashamed of. This video from Irish mental health charity Jigsaw explains more about what our mental health is and how it can be impacted by various factors during our lives.
Mental health life insurance summary
Below we explain some of the main points about how life insurance works for mental health and how you can get the cheapest and best life insurance with a mental health condition.
Life Insurance and mental health
Mental health issues can affect everyone and according to statistics from Mind, around 1 in 6 people in England report experiencing a common mental health condition like depression every week.
Most of the UK’s top insurance brands will offer some level of cover for people with a history of mental illnesses or conditions. This means it isn’t always necessary to apply for specialist life insurance, especially if your symptoms are milder/well managed.
Certain conditions won’t be classed as being as ‘high risk’ by insurers, so are often very straightforward to get cover for. Other more serious mental health conditions may require you to speak to a specialist provider, but there are several who are known to work well for people in this situation.
Key factors for life insurance with mental health conditions:
- What mental health condition do you have?
- When were you diagnosed?
- What treatment(s) are you receiving? (e.g. antidepressants, CBT)
- Have you ever been hospitalised due to your mental health?
- Do you have any other pre-existing medical conditions?
- Does your mental health prevent you from working?
- Have you ever harmed yourself or thought about self harm?
- Have you ever attempted to take your own life or thought about taking your own life?
Note: We appreciate how difficult answering some of these questions can be and will do what we can to make things easier for you. The important thing is to take your time and answer honestly to make sure that the cover you get is right for you.
Talking about mental health with your life insurance advisor
We understand that a hard part of applying for life insurance is having to talk about your health (mental or physical) with a virtual stranger. It’s possible you will need to answer questions that you find insensitive or inappropriate which can cause stress.
This makes it even more crucial to speak to someone with the right experience, who is sympathetic and understands your needs. Our team of mental health insurance specialists will always put your needs first and make sure we are as sensitive as we can be.
If you are struggling to answer certain questions, then it’s worth letting your advisor know and they can work out the best way to help you.
Does life insurance cover mental illness?
Standard life insurance policies will normally cover pre-existing conditions, provided your insurer was told about them and got all the information they needed when you applied. This is true for both physical and mental health conditions and you will also be covered for any conditions that you are diagnosed with after you buy your policy.
The only time where you may not be covered is if you didn’t tell your insurer about a previous diagnosis when you applied, which is known as a ‘non-disclosure’. This is the most common reason for insurance policies not paying out, so it’s really not worth skipping over relevant details on your application.
Note: This only applies to conditions that you already have when you apply and not telling your insurer about conditions that develop later wouldn’t be classed as a ‘non-disclosure’. The exception to this is if there is a change to your health while your application is still being processed, which you would need to tell them about.
How much does mental health life insurance cost?
There are a few key factors that insurance providers will use during any life insurance application to work out how much your policy will cost. This includes things like your age, height and weight and any medical conditions that you have.
It’s important to note that prices can be different based on the insurer you apply to, and you could end up paying up double (or even triple) what you should if you speak to the wrong company. It’s best to do some research and compare quotes from a few insurers to make sure this doesn’t happen.
It is also possible to save money on your cover by making some simple changes such as quitting smoking. This would improve your overall health and prices will drop dramatically after 1 year smoking free as smokers often pay more. You can also reduce the amount of cover (£s), policy term or policy type for lower pricing.
Note: Another helpful thing can be to apply when your mental health is in a good place if possible and it’s usually best to avoid applying right after changing your treatment or medication.
Example mental health life insurance policy
Here is an example of a real customer that our specialists have helped to find the best possible life cover available. This is a live policy which has been active since November 2023 and shows a real-life situation where someone with a mental health condition has applied for and bought life insurance.
|Details of applicant
|Mr K. was born in July 1980 and is a smoker.
|Mental health details and information
|Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2021 and no other medical conditions.
Receives treatment from a psychiatrist every few months.
|Other health information
|Height: 5’10” / Weight: 18st7
|Mr K. wanted £150,000 worth of level term life insurance to protect his family if he died. He had a budget of no more than £30 per month and wanted a policy term of 20 years.
|£28.97 per month
As you can see, the price is actually very affordable, and this is often the case when you apply with a specialist broker like us. Applying straight through a provider or with a non-specialist can sometimes mean paying far more or potentially even being declined.
In this case, Mr K. managed to get the exact cover he was after and now his home and family are protected for just £28.97 per month.
Does life insurance pay out for mental health conditions?
YES – If you were to die due to reasons related to your mental health, your life insurance policy should pay out a cash lump sum to support your loved ones.
The main reason a policy might not pay out is if you left out key details about your health when you applied. We’d always suggest being as honest as you can when you apply for life insurance, as it really isn’t worth the risk of your policy not paying out.
Another reason the policy may not pay out is for suicidal death within the first 12-24 months of the policy start. We know this is something that is difficult to talk about, but ultimately it is important that you know where you stand.
Does mental health affect life insurance?
Having a mental health condition won’t affect how your policy works or the level of cover you receive. It just means that you may need to answer some additional questions when you apply and that certain insurers are likely to work better for you compared to others.
It also doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to pay more for your cover, especially if you have mild or well managed symptoms. The best way to work out what cover will be available for you will be to speak to a medical life insurance specialist for guidance.
What types of life insurance are available for mental health?
There isn’t one ‘best’ mental health life insurance policy, as the right type of cover for you will vary based on your budget and what is most important to you to protect. There are several options for life insurance that are available in the UK which are explained in more detail below.
You should choose the type of cover which feels right for you and if you are unsure, it can be useful to get some advice from a medical life insurance specialist.
Term life insurance
Term life insurance is the most popular form of life insurance to buy, and it will cover you for a set number of years (policy term). There are two main types of term life insurance which are level term and decreasing term.
Level term cover is also known as family life insurance and it will pay out a set cash lump sum in the event of your death. This money is meant to support the people you care about with important expenses such as funeral costs and general cost of living.
Decreasing cover is also known as mortgage life insurance, as it is intended to help your loved ones repay your mortgage in the event of your death. The amount that the policy would pay out will decrease over time as you repay more of your mortgage balance.
Whole life insurance
Whole life insurance is a policy which protects you for the rest of your life and has no set end date. These policies are extremely comprehensive and are popular with people who don’t want to worry about potentially buying another policy in the future.
Joint life insurance
Most insurers will allow you to choose between individual cover or joint life insurance which would protect both you and your partner. This can often be a cheaper option and easier to manage as you only need to apply once and will have one monthly payment to keep track of.
Guaranteed life insurance
Guaranteed life insurance can be a good choice for people who would struggle to get traditional life cover due to their health or a dangerous occupation or hobby. With these policies, insurers are guaranteed to accept your application with little to no medical questions asked.
Over 50s life insurance
Over 50s life insurance is a policy which is both whole life insurance and guaranteed life insurance. This means you are guaranteed to be accepted for a policy which protects you for the rest of your life.
You can apply for over 50s life insurance if you are between 50 – 80 years old and a UK resident.
Family income benefit
Family income benefit is viewed as a cost-effective alternative to standard life cover. It works similarly to traditional life insurance but pays out regular cash payments rather than one large lump sum.
This is because it is designed to help replace your regular income, so your family can continue to afford the lifestyle they are used to.
Will I need a medical for mental health life insurance?
Whether you will need to provide extra medical information will depend on the insurer you apply to and the specific condition(s) that you have. In some cases, the provider might want to see a report from your GP to get further information about how your condition impacts your health and lifestyle.
This isn’t something you need to be too worried about as it is standard for life insurance applications and doesn’t automatically mean that you’re more likely to be denied cover.
How can I help myself with my mental health?
All of us are likely to struggle with low mood and mental health problems from time to time and this won’t always affect our likelihood of getting life insurance. If you are worried about your mental health you can reach out to organisations like the NHS or charities like Mind or Mental Health UK for free support and resources.
There are also various simple ways in which we can work to improve our mental health and wellbeing ourselves as explained in this video which was made by the BBC in 2023. Here, Dr Emeka Okorocha explains some of his top tips for improving your mental health.
Does critical illness cover pay out for mental health?
Critical illness cover policies can be very different between insurance providers, particularly in what each provider will pay out for. Certain insurers may pay out for mental health issues where others wouldn’t. We’d always suggest checking your policy documents carefully or asking your advisor to find out exactly what you are covered for.
Even with the insurers who will pay out for mental health, this is usually restricted to mental illnesses that will seriously impact your life. This is where insurers acknowledge that mental health problems can have as much of an impact on lifestyle as physical conditions.
Some critical illness cover policies will pay out for serious mental health issues that result in:
- Being unable to work for at least 12 months
- Needing inpatient care continuously for at least 2 weeks
- Ongoing symptoms that are expected to remain with you (according to a doctor or GP)
- Being unresponsive to treatment for at least a year
If you’ve already experienced problems with your mental health, critical illness cover might not always be available. It’s a good idea to talk to an insurance expert if this is a policy that you’re interested in to find out more.
"This company went above & beyond to get me cover even though I have MS, I am very happy I managed to get cover, Amazing staff, Dean went above & beyond, I highly rate this company."
by Elizabeth Turner-Long - 9th August 2023
A – Z of mental health
While we may use ‘mental health condition’ as a general term, this phrase refers to a wide range of different medical conditions. The symptoms of each condition will vary and you may be diagnosed with one or more of these conditions by a GP or specialist.
Below is a comprehensive list of mental health conditions that it is possible to be diagnosed with.
- Acute stress disorder
- Adjustment disorder
- Alcohol abuse
- Alcohol addiction
- Alcohol dependence
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Alcoholic hallucinosis
- Alice in Wonderland syndrome
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Amnestic disorder
- Amphetamine dependence
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Anterograde amnesia
- Antisocial behaviour
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Anxiety disorder
- Asperger syndrome
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Attenuated psychosis syndrome
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Avoidant personality disorder
- Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder
- Atypical depression
- Binge eating disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Borderline intellectual functioning
- Borderline personality disorder
- Breathing-related sleep disorder
- Brief psychotic disorder
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder
- Caffeine-induced sleep disorder
- Caffeine dependence
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Cannabis dependence
- Capgras delusion
- Catalepsy (Narcolepsy)
- Catatonic Schizophrenia
- Childhood amnesia
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Childhood-onset fluency disorder
- Child neglect
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorder
- Cocaine dependence
- Cocaine intoxication
- Cognitive disorder
- Communication disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Conversion disorder
- Cotard delusion
- Cyclorythmic disorder
- Delusional disorder
- Delusional parasitosis (Ekbom’s syndrome)
- Dependent personality disorder
- Depersonalisation disorder
- Depression (mood)
- Depressive personality disorder
- Developmental coordination disorder
- Diogenes syndrome
- Disinhibited social engagement disorder
- Disorder of written expression
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
- Dissociative amnesia (Psychogenic amnesia)
- Dissociative identity disorder
- Down syndrome
- Drug withdrawal
- Erectile disorder
- Excoriation disorder
- Exhibitionistic disorder
- Expressive language disorder
- Factitious disorder
- Female sexual arousal/interest disorder
- Folie à deux (Shared psychotic disorder)
- Fregoli delusion
- Frotteuristic Disorder
- Fugue state
- Gambling disorder
- Ganser syndrome
- Gender dysphoria
- General adaption syndrome
- Generalised anxiety disorder
- Grandiose delusions
- Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder
- Haltlose personality disorder
- Histrionic personality disorder
- Hoarding disorder
- Huntington’s disease
- Hyperkinetic syndrome
- Hypoactive sexual desire disorder
- Hypomanic episode
- Illness anxiety disorder
- Impostor syndrome
- Impulse control disorder
- Inhalant use disorder
- Intellectual development disorder
- Intermittent explosive disorder
- Internet gaming disorder
- Korsakoff’s syndrome
- Lacunar amnesia
- Language disorder
- Learning disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Major depressive episode
- Maladaptive daydreaming
- Male erectile disorder
- Minor depressive disorder
- Mood disorder
- Morbid jealousy
- Munchausen syndrome
- Munchausen by proxy
- Mixed episode
- Pain disorder
- Panic attack
- Panic disorder
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Parkinson’s disease
- Passive-aggressive personality disorder
- Pathological gambling
- Paedophilic disorder
- Persecutory delusion
- Persistent complex bereavement disorder (Complicated grief disorder)
- Persistent depressive disorder (Dysthymia)
- Personality disorder
- Pervasive developmental disorder
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
- Phencyclidine-related disorder
- Phobic disorder (Phobia)
- Phonological disorder (Speech disorder)
- Physical abuse
- Pica (disorder)
- Polysubstance-related disorder
- Postpartum depression
- Post traumatic embitterment disorder
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Premature ejaculation
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Primary hypersomnia
- Provisional tic disorder
- Pseudologia fantastica (Pathological lying)
- Psychogenic amnesia
- Psychoneurotic personality disorder
- Psychotic disorder (Psychosis)
- Reactive attachment disorder
- Reading disorder
- Recurrent brief depression
- Relational disorder
- REM sleep behaviour disorder
- Residual schizophrenia
- Restless legs syndrome
- Retrograde amnesia
- Rett’s disorder
- Rumination syndrome
- Sadistic personality disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Schizoid personality disorder
- Schizophreniform disorder
- Schizotypal personality disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Sedative-, Hypnotic-, or Anxiolytic- related disorder
- Selective mutism
- Self-defeating personality disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Sexual addiction
- Sexual fetishism
- Sexual masochism disorder
- Sexual sadism disorder
- Shared psychotic disorder
- Sleep disorder
- Sleep terror disorder
- Sleep paralysis
- Sleepwalking disorder
- Social anxiety disorder (Social phobia)
- Sociopathy (Psychopathy)
- Somatic symptom disorder
- Somatisation disorder
- Specific phobia
- Stendhal syndrome
- Stereotypic movement disorder
- Stimulant use disorder
- Stockholm syndrome
- Substance dependence
- Substance-related disorder
- Substance use disorder
- Suicidal ideation
- Tardive dyskinesia
- Tic disorder
- Tobacco use disorder (Nicotine dependence)
- Tourette Syndrome
- Transient global amnesia
- Transvestic disorder
- Truman Syndrome
- Undifferentiated somatoform disorder (Somatic symptom disorder)
- Voyeuristic disorder
What if I’ve been declined life insurance due to my mental health?
It can be understandably frustrating to apply for life insurance only to have your application declined and it can sometimes happen for people who disclose mental health issues. This is because some insurers won’t have a proper understanding of mental health, though things have definitely improved over the years.
Life insurance underwriting for mental health has changed over time, so it’s possible that you could get cover now even if you struggled in the past. Insurers also won’t be able to see if you’ve applied and been declined by other insurers before, so they won’t know unless you tell them.
If you’ve ever been declined life insurance because of mental health issues, this doesn’t need to be the end of the road and you might just have been speaking to the wrong insurer.
If this is that situation that you are in, you should speak to a mental health life insurance expert to work out your best options.
Frequently asked questions about life insurance and mental health
What are the 4 types of mental health?
Each type of condition (and the condition itself) will affect every person differently and will often have very different symptoms. Many of these conditions can be managed well through a combination of medications and treatments like therapy.
What causes bad mental health?
There isn’t one main reason why people develop problems with their mental health.
There are some factors known to increase the risk though such as experiencing trauma, neglect or abuse, being bullied or feeling isolated or lonely. You could also experience temporary low mood and mental health issues related things such as grief from losing a loved one.
If you are struggling with your mental health, there are many brilliant charities that you can contact to get free support and advice including:
Does taking antidepressants affect life insurance?
If you mention any type of medical condition, your insurer is likely to ask if you have been prescribed treatments or medications. Insurers may want more information about medication like antidepressants such as:
- How long have you been taking antidepressants?
- Has your medication changed recently?
- Has your medication dose increased or decreased since you started taking it?
There aren’t any ‘wrong’ answers, and you should always try to answer questions about medication or treatment as honestly as you can. Insurers will want all the relevant medical information they need and if you leave anything out you risk your policy being invalid.
Does seeing a psychiatrist affect life insurance?
If you disclose a mental health condition, you will be asked whether you have been referred to a psychiatrist or a specialist. If you have, this can be a positive thing because it means that you have received treatment or proper care.
It is usually part of the application process to be asked about any treatment (e.g. CBT) or specialist care that you have received. This is purely to see whether you are or have been through a process to try to help you with your mental health.
Is mental health a pre-existing condition for life insurance?
A pre-existing medical condition is defined as something that you have suffered symptoms, received treatment or medication for, over a period of time. Some conditions may be ‘ever had’ and some may be within a period of time (e.g. within 5 years).
Examples of conditions you have ‘ever had’ include eating disorders, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Examples of conditions from within the past 5 years would include conditions like depression, anxiety or stress.
Is depression covered by life insurance?
YES – In most cases, you should be able to get life insurance with a history of depression. The insurer will ask a few questions about your depression and any treatment you may have received.
It can be helpful to apply at a time where your depression symptoms are less severe, as you may be able to get a better price.
Is anxiety a mental disorder for life insurance?
YES – Anxiety would be classed a pre-existing condition when you apply for life insurance if you have had symptoms or treatment within the last 5 years.
People with anxiety can live completely normal lives provided they have the right support and anxiety shouldn’t prevent you from getting the life insurance that you need.
Can a person with mental illness have a normal life?
YES – With the right care and support, it is absolutely possible to live a ‘normal’ life with a mental health condition. Understanding of mental health conditions and the treatments available have improved dramatically over the years.
You may experience different symptoms and severity of symptoms at different points in your life. Most people with mental health conditions will be able to live independently but may rely on treatments like therapy or antidepressants to support them.
It’s also possible to experience brief periods of poor mental health (e.g. anxiety or depression) which you then fully recover from.
Which medical conditions are linked with mental health?
Our mental health is often linked to our physical health. Mental health conditions can impact how we feel physically, and physical conditions can affect us mentally.
People living with long term medical conditions often experience poor mental health as well. This includes conditions like:
Other types of insurance for people with mental health conditions
- Income protection insurance: Income protection insurance can be useful, as it pays out a set monthly income to support you if you cannot work due to injury or illness.
- Personal accident insurance: This policy will pay you a cash lump sum if you are inured accidentally, which can be used to cover expenses like medical bills or household bills if you can’t work.
- Health insurance: Health insurance is designed to help you cover the cost of private healthcare and many providers will offer mental health benefits for their customers.
- Travel insurance: Travel insurance is often available for mental health conditions and will protect you financially if anything unexpected happens while you’re away.
Note: The types of cover that are available for you may vary based on the specific mental health condition you have, so it’s worth speaking to an expert to check what your options are.
How do I buy mental health life insurance?
Buying life insurance with a mental health condition doesn’t have to be a long and complicated journey. In some cases, you may even be able to get cover from a mainstream insurer if you haven’t experienced symptoms in several years or your symptoms are mild.
We’re proud to have supported and fundraised for charities like Mind who work tirelessly to help people across the UK with their mental health. We also have more than 20 years of expertise in helping people with mental health conditions find the right life cover to protect their loved ones.
As mental health life insurance specialists, we can help explain what cover is available and what might work best for you. If you need free advice from our friendly experts, you can call 0800 009 6559 or click here.