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Mental health and life insurance

If you’re suffering from depression or a mental health condition, you’re not alone - one in four adults in the UK experience mental illness.

If you’re thinking about financial protection for your loved ones, rest assured that even if you’re concerned about your mental health, life insurance is possible. We take a look at your options.

If you’re suffering from depression or a mental health condition, you’re not alone - one in four adults in the UK experience mental illness.

If you’re thinking about financial protection for your loved ones, rest assured that even if you’re concerned about your mental health, life insurance is possible. We take a look at your options.

Written by
Anna McEntee
Insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
6 JUNE 2023
7 min read
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What is a mental health condition?

A mental health condition is an illness that affects your psychological and emotional well-being, often through a disorder that can change your mood, thinking and behaviour.

There are many different types of mental health conditions that can affect our emotional wellbeing and ability to function in various ways, depending on the type and severity of the disorder. Some of the more common forms of mental health problems include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Phobias
  • Postnatal depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Just like with physical health problems, effective treatment is available for people struggling with mental health conditions. If you believe you’re suffering from a mental health condition, speak to your GP. They will be able to give you a diagnosis and help you access support.

Can I get life insurance with depression or a mental health condition?

Most people who’ve experienced mental health conditions can still get life insurance. Even for those currently suffering from poor mental health, life insurance is still an option.

However, you may find that your options are limited depending on the mental health condition you’ve been diagnosed with and the severity of your symptoms. Certain insurance providers may see you as too great of a risk to insure, or they may agree to insure you, but for a higher premium.

If you’ve had a serious mental health condition for a long time, you could still find cover, but you might need to find a specialist provider. Under the Equality Act 2010, insurance providers are not allowed to discriminate against you because of a past condition that you have fully recovered from, or because of any mental health condition you have disclosed that has no bearing on your likelihood of making a claim.

What could happen if I fail to disclose a mental health condition to my life insurance provider?

It can be tempting to keep quiet about any mental health concerns when applying for life insurance because of the threat of increased premiums. Perhaps you’re worried about taking out life insurance with a depression diagnosis, or maybe you’re fully recovered, and you want it left in the past.

But this could be a costly mistake. It’s always best to be open and honest about any medical conditions you have, physical or mental. When it comes to mental health and life insurance, failing to declare any medical information – intentionally or not – could have serious consequences. For example:

  • It could invalidate your policy - your provider is perfectly within their rights to invalidate your policy if they discover false information was provided, or important information omitted.
  • Your loved ones may not get a pay-out - your insurance provider may refuse to pay out on a claim, even if the circumstances of your death had nothing to do with your mental health condition.
  • Your policy might be cancelled - you won’t receive a refund for your past premiums and you may find it difficult to get other types of insurance in the future.
  • You could be charged a lump-sum penalty fee - you may have to make up the difference between the rate you were paying and the rate you should have been charged had your insurance provider known about your condition.
  • You could face criminal prosecution - you could be charged for insurance fraud under the Fraud Act 2006.
  • Your family could be sued - your insurance provider could take out legal proceedings against your beneficiaries to recover the claim they paid.

What information on my mental health will I need to give to a life insurance provider?

When you apply for life insurance, an insurance provider will ask you key questions on your health, lifestyle and career to assess how likely you are to make a claim. They may ask for details on:

  • You and your family’s, medical history (including previous and existing conditions)
  • Medication taken during the past five years
  • Height and weight
  • Your GP’s name and practice address
  • Lifestyle and behaviours
  • Financial information (for example, your salary).

When it comes to any mental health conditions you’re disclosing, a provider typically needs to know:

  • When you were diagnosed
  • The severity of your symptoms
  • How regularly you experience these symptoms
  • How your illness affects your everyday life. For example, a provider might want to know of any absences from work due to your mental health.
  • Whether or not you take medication for your illness and if so, how long you’ve taken it.

Applying for life insurance is increasingly accessible, with many providers accepting online applications.

If you’re ready to see what’s out there, we can help. We compare life insurance from 22* different life insurance providers, online and offline. So if you’re concerned about finding life insurance for depression and other mental health conditions, you can shop around and see what works for you.

* Correct as of January 2023

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Could life insurance cost more if I have a mental health condition?

Your life insurance premiums may be higher if you have a mental health condition, depending on how severe your symptoms are or have been in the past. Insurance providers assess risk to see how likely you are to make a claim. The more likely it is, the higher your premiums are likely to be.

For example, if you’ve recently been hospitalised because of your mental health, life insurance providers may assume you’re a greater risk than someone who suffered a less serious condition many years ago, and you might be offered a more expensive premium.

Your insurance provider also has the right to charge you more if they can prove that you’re a greater risk to insure, based on relevant and reliable information. But you absolutely have the right to be treated fairly.

The Equality Act 2010 protects people with disabilities, including people with mental illness, from discrimination. This law could protect you if, for example, a life insurance provider refuses you cover or charges you an exorbitant premium because of a past condition that you have fully recovered from or based on a misunderstanding of your diagnosis.

Is a mental health condition considered a pre-existing medical condition?

Any injury or illness, including a mental health condition that exists before or at the time you take out a life insurance policy is considered a pre-existing medical condition. It’s really important that you inform an insurance provider of any injury or illness when you apply for life insurance. If you don’t, and your insurance provider finds out, they could reduce, or completely reject, the payout from any claim.

Where can I get more help on life insurance?

If you’d like to get more information on life cover and how it relates to mental health conditions, you can talk to an insurance expert. The friendly advisers at LifeSearch are available to chat on 0800 072 1147.

Lines are open:
Monday to Friday: 8am-8pm
Saturday: 9am-2pm
Sunday: 10am-3.30pm

Alternatively, it’s easy to compare your life insurance options with Comparethemarket.

Frequently asked questions

Why is it more difficult to get life insurance with a mental health condition?

It can be more difficult to get suitable cover if you have a mental health condition because you may be considered a ‘high risk’ customer. This means there’s a higher probability of insurance providers having to pay out on a claim.

Unfortunately, this means you’ll most likely pay a higher premium, and in some cases, you could be refused cover altogether.

What other challenges might mental health customers face when looking for life insurance?

Depending on the severity of the mental health condition you’re suffering from, your life insurance options may be limited. Eligibility criteria varies among providers, but customers with mental health problems may face the following challenges:

  • You may be asked a very generic question, as in, ‘have you ever had a mental health problem?’ without being given the opportunity to explain your condition in more detail.
  • You may still be considered a ‘high risk’ customer, even if you had mental health issues in the past and are now fully recovered. 
  • Insurance providers may refuse your application without offering a proper explanation.
  • You may have to pay more for your premium if you’re unable to work because of your mental health condition.

Do life insurance products offer extra support for mental health conditions?

Some life insurance comes with a wide range of added-value support that could be helpful for people with mental health conditions. This support often comes as part of the policy, doesn’t cost anything extra and starts from the day the cover begins. If you have an existing life insurance policy and you start to struggle with your mental health, counselling services could be available from your provider – so it’s worth asking.

What should I do if I believe I’ve been treated unfairly by an insurance provider due to a mental health condition?

If you feel you’ve been treated unfairly by a life insurance provider because of your mental health condition, you can make a formal complaint. Ask for a detailed explanation of how they came to their decision, along with any supporting data.

If you’re unhappy with their explanation or how they’ve dealt with your complaint, you can take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). If they find in your favour, you may be offered an official apology and/or compensation by the insurance provider.

If you decide to take legal action, Citizens Advice can offer helpful advice on what to do next. Just be aware that you’ll need to make your claim within six months of being refused insurance cover or being quoted an unreasonably high premium.

Compare life insurance for mental health conditions

Life insurance offers peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care after you die. A mental health condition, past or present, doesn’t have to stop you from protecting your family’s financial future. Compare life insurance quotes for mental health to help you find the best fit.

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