Life insurance is all about risk. So it’s no surprise that a slew of health conditions and lifestyle-related risk factors can affect life insurance premiums and eligibility. Whether you’re applying for term life insurance or permanent life insurance, having any illness — from cancer to diabetes — translates to higher life insurance premiums and higher risk of a denied application.
Mental health issues are no different. If you’ve been diagnosed with depression or another mental health condition like anxiety, you’re seen as riskier in insurance underwriters’ eyes. You could pay higher premiums for the same amount of coverage or even have trouble qualifying for life insurance.
But you do have options. Some life insurers are friendlier toward applicants with documented mental health issues.
The Best Life Insurance Companies for Mental Health Issues
These are the best life insurance companies for people with mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Each does at least one thing really well, and we believe our best overall pick provides the best value to the greatest number of applicants.
Best Overall: Lincoln Financial
Lincoln Financial earns the top spot on our list of life insurance companies for people with mental health conditions due to several factors:
- One of the few life insurance companies that doesn’t penalize applicants for taking medication to treat depression and anxiety together
- Relatively low premiums overall
- Multiple term and permanent life insurance options
- Option to waive the life insurance medical exam
- Guaranteed issue coverage for older applicants who might not qualify for term coverage
Lincoln Financial has some other benefits worth noting:
- Lincoln VULOne, a permanent cash-value policy that can provide tax-free income later in life
- Key person insurance for business owners and major shareholders
- Preferred relationships with financial planners — great if you need assistance with retirement planning, tax strategy, or legacy planning
Best for Applicants With Anxiety Disorder: AIG Direct
AIG Direct is unusually lenient with applicants who’ve been diagnosed with anxiety disorder.
Although insurers see anxiety disorder as less concerning than clinical depression and certain other mental health issues, it’s still a red flag for many of them. AIG is one of the few that allows applicants to take multiple medications to treat anxiety without automatically placing them in a higher risk category.
This means a diagnosis of anxiety could have no effect on your life insurance premiums with AIG. Of course, your actual premium depends on numerous other factors not related to your mental health.
- Term life insurance policies up to 30 years
- Multiple term life policy options, including convertible term — convert to a permanent policy without another medical exam or proof of insurability
- Guaranteed issue whole life policies up to $25,000 — good if your medical condition prevents you from getting traditional term or permanent coverage
Best for Foreign Nationals: Transamerica
Transamerica is one of the few life insurance companies that caters to foreign nationals who do business or own homes in the United States but aren’t citizens or permanent residents.
It also happens to be friendly to applicants with depression and other mental health issues, including noncitizens. You can qualify for the best rates with Transamerica even if you’re taking multiple medications to treat anxiety disorder or you’ve been diagnosed with mild depression in the recent past.
- Minimum coverage amount as low as $250,000 for foreign nationals — good for supplemental insurance coverage
- Term and whole life options available
- Multi-applicant policies available — good for insuring both spouses or entire families with members inside and outside the U.S.
- Available to residents of nearly 50 countries
Best for Applicants With More Than One Mental Health Diagnosis: Banner Life
Banner Life is the best choice for applicants with more than one mental health condition.
Although more concerning issues like schizophrenia could still jeopardize your application, parallel diagnoses of anxiety disorder and mild depression won’t. In fact, you may still qualify for the best rates on Banner Life policies if you’re taking medication for both.
- Term life coverage starting at $100,000
- Get term coverage up to age 75, although death benefits may be lower and premiums higher
- Terms as long as 40 years for eligible applicants
Best for Applicants With Other Health Conditions: Prudential
Prudential is another life insurer that’s unusually lenient with applicants who have mental health issues.
But its real selling point is its leniency with people who have other significant health issues. Although not quite offering a blank slate to people with serious medical conditions, Prudential tends to look more favorably on well-controlled diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and other well-known risk factors for premature death.
- PruTerm policies offer term coverage in one-year increments — great for temporary needs, such as paying off a short-term business loan
- Generous no-exam coverage with death benefits up to $1 million
- Wide range of riders, including terminal illness coverage — claim your death benefit while still living with a qualifying terminal illness diagnosis
Methodology: How We Select the Best Life Insurance Companies for People With Mental Health Conditions
We use several important criteria to assess the best life insurance providers for people with mental illness, depression,and related medical conditions.
Each relates to the insurer’s underwriting process for people with a mental illness diagnosis or to the policy itself.
Number of Medications Accepted
The more medications you’re taking to treat clinical depression or other mental health conditions, the more trouble you’ll have qualifying for favorable life insurance rates.
That’s how it normally works, at least. But some life insurance underwriters are more forgiving than others. The best consider you for Standard Plus or Preferred risk status even if you’re taking multiple medications to treat diagnosed anxiety. If you’ve been formally diagnosed with depression, you’ll have a shorter leash, but some insurance companies will still consider you for Standard Plus or Preferred if you’re on a single medication to treat mild depression.
Type of Diagnosis
Your specific mental health condition matters a lot for your life insurance premiums and eligibility. In rough order from least to most concerning for underwriters, common mental health issues that affect life insurance include:
- Anxiety disorder
- Dysthimia, often called mild or functional depression
- Seasonal depression
- Postpartum depression and other types of situational depression
- Major depression
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Borderline personality disorder
- Dissociative disorders
- Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder
- Psychotic depression
Where possible, we prefer insurers that take a more lenient approach to mental health diagnoses in general.
Severity of Diagnosis
If you’ve been diagnosed with depression or anxiety specifically, the severity of your condition could matter.
Insurers tend to be less concerned about applicants with mild depression or anxiety, especially if the condition is well-controlled and no instances of self-harm have been recorded. Moderate and severe depression are more concerning and likely result in higher premiums. Depending on the circumstances, applicants with severe depression or anxiety could have trouble qualifying for life insurance at all.
Again, while recognizing that every insurer is likely to scrutinize applicants with severe depression or anxiety, we prefer providers that don’t rule them out as a matter of course.
Circumstances of Diagnosis
The circumstances of your mental health diagnosis could matter a lot to potential insurers.
Insurers tend to be less concerned about potentially transient conditions like situational depression. Examples of situational depression include postpartum depression and depression triggered by grief, such as after the death of a close relative. Although not always temporary, these conditions — for better or worse — may be seen as such.
We prefer insurers that carefully consider the circumstances and treat applicants with potentially temporary conditions more leniently.
Medical Exam Requirement
A physical medical exam can’t detect depression or other mental health issues, at least not directly. But we do recognize that many life insurance applicants prefer not to deal with the stress of an in-person exam — perhaps especially if they’re managing mental health challenges at the same time. That’s why we prefer life insurance companies that offer no-exam life insurance coverage.
This is another factor that doesn’t directly pertain to mental health. But it’s still important for would-be applicants seeking the widest possible range of life insurance terms.
If you’re relatively young and eager to build a life insurance ladder that gradually steps down coverage as you age, you’ll want policies that extend all the way out to 30 years. That’s the customary limit for term life insurance coverage.
Mental health conditions such as depression affect people from all walks of life.
If your income and expenses are high, you need enough life insurance to protect your loved ones from the financial fallout of your premature death. Which is why we’re fans of life insurance companies with relatively high coverage amounts for term life policies — upwards of $2 million per policy.
Life Insurance for People With Mental Illness FAQs
You have questions about life insurance for people with depression, anxiety disorder, and other mental illnesses. We have answers.
How Does Mental Illness Affect Life Insurance Rates?
Depression and other types of mental illness generally result in higher life insurance premiums.
When you apply for life insurance, the insurer pulls your medical records from MIB, which collects a vast array of information about your medical history and past insurance applications. If you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness or disclosed such a diagnosis on a recent life insurance application, your would-be insurer will almost certainly find out.
It’s difficult to say exactly how much of an effect mental illness could have on your life insurance rates. The impact depends on other aspects of your medical history, including whether you’ve experienced documented instances of self-harm or have been committed because a medical provider believed you posed a danger to yourself or others.
In the worst-case scenario, your life insurance application could be denied due to your mental illness diagnosis.
What Questions Will an Underwriter Ask About My Depression?
Your underwriter will want to know:
- When you were first diagnosed with depression
- The severity of your diagnosis — mild, moderate, or severe
- The nature of your diagnosis — temporary circumstances such as postpartum depression may be less of an issue for insurers, for example
- Any related conditions you’ve been diagnosed with, such as substance use disorder
- Any medications you’re taking to treat depression and related conditions
- Whether you’ve ever attempted suicide
Bear in mind that your insurer can find answers to some of these questions in your medical history and past insurance applications. It’s therefore important to be honest, even if you think your insurer won’t like the answers.
If you’re not truthful, your application could be denied. If it’s accepted and the insurer later learns you omitted important information on your application, the insurer could even refuse to pay death benefits.
How Can I Get the Best Life Insurance Rate if I Have Depression?
Shop around for life insurance companies that offer more favorable terms to people with depression. Be sure to tell your insurer about any mitigating circumstances, such as recent childbirth or death of a close relative.
If you’re still relatively young and your condition is well-controlled, you can also wait a few years before applying. Many insurers are more forgiving of medical issues — including serious events like suicide attempts — that occurred more than five years in the past.
Can You Be Denied Life Insurance Due to Mental Illness?
Yes. While well-controlled depression probably won’t result in denials across the board, other mental health conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder could prove more challenging. This is true even if you’re currently taking medication to treat those conditions.
In contrast, a past anxiety diagnosis is less of a red flag for insurers. Even if you’re taking medication to control diagnosed anxiety, your life insurance rates might not be higher than an otherwise identical applicant without anxiety.
How to Choose the Best Life Insurance Policy If You’ve Been Diagnosed With a Mental Health Condition
If you’ve been diagnosed with depression or another mental health condition, you should prepare to pay higher life insurance premiums.
But don’t get too discouraged. There’s a good chance you’ll qualify for life insurance coverage. You could even find yourself in a favored risk category, such as Standard Plus or even Preferred. That’ll depend in part on other health and lifestyle factors, such as your BMI, cholesterol, and family health history.
Your first move is to look for life insurance companies that come right out and say they welcome applicants with depression. This narrows your list right off the bat.
From there, get specific. Go through your situation with each insurer before you apply and ask how they’ll assess your risk. Disclose the initial diagnosis date, the circumstances around the diagnoses, any medications you’re taking, and any complicating factors like past suicide attempts or hospitalization. Mention temporary or mitigating factors like postpartum mental health issues.
Finally, set your preferred life insurance term and coverage amount and compare your premiums. Chances are, some insurers will come in lower than others. Those are the ones that should make the final cut.
And if all else fails, consider a guaranteed issue life insurance policy. These policies have small death benefits and high premiums, but you can’t be denied for any medical reason, including a mental health diagnosis.