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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.

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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.

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.

What is 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.

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.

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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 applicantMr K. was born in July 1980 and is a smoker.
Mental health details and informationDiagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2021 and no other medical conditions.
Receives treatment from a psychiatrist every few months.
Other health informationHeight: 5’10” / Weight: 18st7
Cover requirementsMr 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.
Premium£28.97 per month
Guaranteed premiums
Standard insurer

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, so it is important to get proper advice if you are interested in this type of cover.

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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.

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.

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.

Useful resources


Mind is one of the UK's biggest and best known mental health charities and they work hard to empower and support anyone with mental health issues or questions. Mind help to provide various support services and many informative online guides and resources.

Mind has been established for over 60 years and has provided services to millions of people through over 1000+ local support services in England and Wales.

Contact details

Telephone0300 123 3393
- info@mind.org.uk

Mental Health UK

Mental Health UK has been supporting the mental health of people across the UK for more than 50 years. They deliver services both locally and nationally to empower people with the information they need to take care of their mental wellbeing.

They work to combat and raise awareness of the root causes of mental health issues and give people the necessary resources to enhance their well-being in their home, academic, and professional environments.

There are 4 organisations that merged to form Mental Health UK which are Rethink Mental Illness (England), Adferiad (Wales), Change Mental Health (Scotland) and Mind Wise (Northern Ireland).

Contact details

Telephone (England) - 0121 522 7007
Telephone (Wales) - 01792 816 600/832 400
Telephone (Scotland) - 0131 662 4359
Telephone (Northern Ireland) - 0289 040 2323
Email - info@mentalhealth-uk.org

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Can I get life insurance with pre-existing conditions?

Yes, you will be able to get life insurance with almost any pre-existing medical condition, as long as it is not terminal. If traditional life insurance is not available due to the severity of your symptoms, then there are other guaranteed and specialist life insurance options, such as:

  • Accidental death
  • Over 50s life insurance
  • Guaranteed life insurance

Some of the most common examples of life insurance with pre-existing conditions are:

  • Overweight or High BMI life insurance
  • Diabetes life insurance (e.g. Type 2 or Type 1 diabetes)
  • Cancer life insurance
  • Heart attack or heart disease life insurance
  • Mental health life insurance
  • Multiple Sclerosis life insurance
  • Autoimmune disorders life insurance
  • HIV life insurance

There are literally thousands of types and variations of pre-exisiting medical conditions and so your situation is likely to be different to someone else. Life insurance with pre-existing conditions will take a number of elements in to account:

  • Severity and type of symptoms
  • Dates of diagnosis, episodes or attacks, and treatments
  • Any ongoing treatment and medications

Your life insurance premiums will be based on your own individual circumstances and how much cover you need. You should be able to adjust the levels of cover to suit your budget and it’s just as important to make sure that you at least have some cover in place.

What does Martin Lewis say about life insurance with pre-existing conditions?

MoneySavingExpert.com suggests that life insurance will ‘cost a lot more’ with a pre-existing medical condition. This is not true and it really does depend on your own individual circumstances so don’t be put off by this as they are not experts in this area.

It is true that some circumstances where the pre-existing medical condition is serious or severe, premiums can be higher to reflect the additional mortality risks. Ultimately, your life insurance premiums are unfortunately based on how likely you are to claim or if you have a higher chance of death within the policy term.

Martin Lewis doesn’t provide any real substance to his comment about pre-existing conditions life insurance and that’s not good enough. You should speak to a medical life insurance specialist to get a fully underwritten quote before you make any final decisions about whether or not you can afford to protect your family.

How much is life insurance with pre-existing conditions?

Most traditional life insurance providers will accept applications for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Often, you will have a number of potential options from several different insurance providers so you can usually save money as well by shopping around.

Historically you might have had less offers when you apply for life insurance with pre-existing conditions, but fortunately that is changing. Most of the more well-known high street life insurance brands are now offering more competitive rates and more flexible underwriting.

Top tips to save money on life insurance with pre-existing conditions:

  • Speak to pre-existing medical conditions specialist (these companies will understand the market better and should know which insurers will be cheapest for you)
  • Shop around and get different quotes (same as everything else, by shopping around you’ll get a better idea of what a good price is and what different companies offer)
  • Apply at the best time (timing can be important when applying for life insurance with pre-existing conditions, usually when symptoms are stable and not before or after treatment)

There are also other things to take into consideration, such as if you’re a smoker or if your weight is higher than normal. Can you do anything to improve your situation that might help to reduce your life insurance premiums.

Best life insurance for pre-existing conditions?

The best life insurance for pre-existing conditions will be different for each individual, based on their circumstances and the details of their health or medical history. There are certainly some insurance providers who are better for people with pre-existing medical conditions than others, such as:

  • The Exeter (better for people with more severe symptoms and serious health problems)
  • Legal & General (can sometimes be good for certain pre-existing medical conditions, especially mild to moderate symptoms)
  • Royal London (offers a number of specialist products and policies for certain pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and mental health)
  • Scottish Widows (sometimes good for moderate medical conditions and offers flexible underwriting for certain conditions)
  • The Guardian (also offers flexible underwriting towards some pre-existing medical conditions)
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