Mental health life insurance
The term ‘mental health’ is defined by psychological, emotional, and social well-being. This means that how we act, feel, and think are all part of our mental health. It also includes how we manage stress, relate to other people, and the choices we make.
Mental health is incredibly important at every stage of our lives, including childhood, adolescence, and all the way through adulthood.
There are seven emotional components that help us to stay mentally healthy:
- Stress relief
- Nutrition (diet)
- Sleep (rest)
- Social interaction
Life insurance for someone who suffers from a form of mental health is often readily available and affordable.
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Talking about mental health with your life insurance advisor
One of the most difficult things about applying for life cover with mental health issues is talking about it with a virtual stranger. You might have to answer questions that may seem inappropriate or insensitive which can cause added stress.
It is therefore important to speak to someone that understands your needs and is sympathetic.
There’s nothing worse than having to share your inner-most secrets with someone that doesn’t appear to care. Some questions that you will be asked aren’t the most comfortable so be prepared for some elements of difficulty.
Life insurance questions about mental health
Here are some examples of the questions that you might be asked to answer when you apply for life insurance with a history of mental health:
- Have you ever: Tried to take your own life / Had thoughts about taking your own life?
- Have you ever: Intentionally harmed yourself / Had thoughts about harming yourself?
- Have you ever been hospitalised or been referred to a psychiatrist due to mental health?
We appreciate that the answers to these questions can be incredibly sensitive and cause trauma. It is important to make sure that you are treated fairly and compassionately around your mental health.
Note: All this being said, it is very important that you answer all questions as honestly and openly as you can. If you are struggling to answer certain questions, then it’s worth letting your adviser know and they can work out the best way to help you.
Can I get life insurance because of mental health?
Yes – you can get life insurance if you’ve suffered from issues because of mental health. Getting the best cover to protect your family and paying a fair price is crucial, so make sure you check with an expert.
Some insurance providers are better than others for mental health, especially where there have been problems with:
- Self-harm or thoughts about self-harm
- Attempts to take your own life or thoughts about taking your own life
Life insurance for mental health has evolved over the past two decades as we’re now seeing more people talking about this subject. There has been a lot of work done by mental health charities to help reduce the stigma around mental health.
Does mental health affect life insurance?
No – the cover itself will be exactly the same as any other life insurance policy. What this means is that when you take out a new policy that you’ll be covered for everything.
There is often an exclusion for suicide in the first 12 or 24 months of any new life insurance policy. This is normal and you shouldn’t worry about this as it’s not due to your mental health issues.
More about life insurance suicide exclusions
Does critical illness cover mental health?
There are policies available that provide very specific cover for problems connected to mental health. Some critical illness cover policies will pay-out if you suffer an episode of mental illness that seriously affects your life.
Some insurers have specifically designed policies that are designed to protect your family if you suffer from mental health. These critical illness cover plans are often an added extra so you should discuss this with your advisor if it’s something that you’re interested in.
Mental illness that seriously impacts your life
These policies recognise that serious mental health problems can have as much of an impact on your lifestyle as a physical condition. According to Mind Charity, as many as 1 in 4 of us will struggle with mental health at some point in our lives.
Some critical illness cover policies will pay-out for serious mental health resulting 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 your GP
- Being unresponsive to treatment for at least a year
The benefit from your critical illness cover policy may enable you to continue to support your family financially. You shouldn’t need to dip into your savings and you can also pay for specialist treatment or care.
NOTE: If you have suffered from moderate or severe mental health problems in the past then you probably won’t be eligible for this cover.
Is mental health a pre-existing condition?
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).
Conditions that will be classed as ever suffered from include:
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Manic depression
Conditions that will be classed as within the past 5 years include:
There’s a range of mental health-related conditions that are classed as severe because of their symptoms. There is also a range of mild to moderate mental health conditions because of the relatively low impact they have.
Does seeing a psychiatrist affect life insurance?
You will be asked whether you have been referred to a psychiatrist or a specialist because of your mental health. This can be a positive because it means that you have received treatment or proper care.
It is usually part of the application 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.
What insurance has the best mental health coverage?
There are three main types of life cover which include life insurance, critical illness cover, and income protection. You can also get health insurance or private medical insurance to help pay for specialist treatment if you are unwell.
Life insurance: will pay out a tax-free lump sum if you pass away for any reason (excluding suicide in the first 12 or 24 months), so this is a comprehensive type of cover
Critical illness cover: pays out a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with a serious or critical illness listed on your policy wording. Some of these policies will pay out for mental health-related problems
Income protection: will pay out a monthly income to replace your salary if you are unable to work for a period of time (usually 1 month to 12 months), depending on your coverage. This will usually exclude mental illness if you disclose mental health problems on your application
Health insurance: this type of policy will pay for private medical treatment that may not be available on the NHS, or help you to avoid NHS waiting times. There are elements of support available for mental health problems on these policies
Which insurance companies covers mental health?
Most of the UK’s top life insurance brands offer some levels of coverage for people with a history of mental illness. There are some insurers that are clearly better than others when it comes to mental health underwriting, depending on your condition and symptoms.
Currently, there are two or three insurance providers in the UK who are specifically good with applications for life insurance with mental health. However, this can change and usually will rotate through other companies every 1 to 2 years as underwriting develops.
What impact does mental illness have on families?
The effects of mental illness on families with children can be dramatic but also can be insignificant. This depends on the type of mental illness and the level of severity of any symptoms.
Young children can be seriously impacted by a parent who is suffering from mental illness. It can be an incredibly difficult time for any family, as we all know, raising children is incredibly difficult and stressful.
If you couple this with a mental health problem, it can significantly add to the stresses for both parents and the children.
Types of mental health
There are literally hundreds of different types of mental health problems and illnesses. Most of these are common conditions but there are also some that are rare and more difficult.
A to Z of mental health
Acute stress disorder
Alice in Wonderland syndrome
Amnestic disorder (Amnesia)
Antisocial personality disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Attenuated psychosis syndrome
Autism spectrum disorder
Avoidant personality disorder
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder
Binge eating disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder
Borderline intellectual functioning
Borderline personality disorder
Breathing-related sleep disorder
Brief psychotic disorder
Caffeine-induced anxiety disorder
Caffeine-induced sleep disorder
Childhood disintegrative disorder
Childhood-onset fluency disorder
Circadian rhythm sleep disorder
Delusional parasitosis (Ekbom’s syndrome)
Dependent personality disorder
Depressive personality disorder
Developmental coordination disorder
Disinhibited social engagement disorder
Disorder of written expression
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
Dissociative amnesia (Psychogenic amnesia)
Dissociative identity disorder
Expressive language disorder
Female sexual arousal/interest disorder
Folie à deux (Shared psychotic disorder)
General adaptation syndrome
Generalized anxiety disorder
Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder
Haltlose personality disorder
Histrionic personality disorder
Hypoactive sexual desire disorder
Illness anxiety disorder (Hypochondriasis)
Impulse control disorder
Inhalant use disorder
Intellectual development disorder
Intermittent explosive disorder
Internet gaming disorder
Major depressive disorder
Major depressive episode
Male erectile disorder
Minor depressive disorder
Munchausen by proxy
Narcissistic personality disorder
Night eating syndrome
Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
Obsessive love disorder
Opioid use disorder
Oppositional defiant disorder
Other specified feeding or eating disorder
Paranoid personality disorder
Passive-aggressive personality disorder
Persistent complex bereavement disorder (Complicated grief disorder)
Persistent depressive disorder (Dysthymia)
Pervasive developmental disorder
Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified
Phobic disorder (Phobia)
Phonological disorder (Speech disorder)
Posttraumatic embitterment disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Provisional tic disorder
Pseudologia fantastica (Pathological lying)
Psychoneurotic personality disorder
Psychotic disorder (Psychosis)
Reactive attachment disorder
Recurrent brief depression
REM sleep behavior disorder
Restless legs syndrome
Sadistic personality disorder
Seasonal affective disorder
Sedative-, hypnotic-, or anxiolytic-related disorder
Self-defeating personality disorder
Separation anxiety disorder
Sexual masochism disorder
Sexual sadism disorder
Shared psychotic disorder
Sleep terror disorder
Social anxiety disorder (Social phobia)
Somatic symptom disorder
Stereotypic movement disorder
Stimulant use disorder
Substance use disorder
Tobacco use disorder (Nicotine dependence)
Transient global amnesia
Undifferentiated somatoform disorder (Somatic symptom disorder)