Bipolar Disorder & Life Insurance

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Bipolar Disorder & Life Insurance

We know that sometimes it isn’t easy to talk about having bipolar disorder. Many of the people that we speak to have a history of self harm and have been declined insurance in the past.

We are here to listen to your story, understand how your health has been in the past and how it is now, to make sure that we place your insurance with an insurer that works for you.

Things we need to know:

  • When were you diagnosed with bipolar disorder?
  • Do you have type 1 bipolar disorder, type 2 bipolar disorder, mixed or cyclothymic?
  • Do you take medication?
  • Have you ever tried to self-harm or attempt suicide?
  • Have you seen a counsellor, psychiatrist or community mental health team?
  • Have you been treated in a hospital as an inpatient?
  • Has the condition caused you to take any time off work in the last five years?

When you apply for most life insurances, bipolar disorder will need to be detailed to the insurer. When you speak to us, the first thing we will do is chat with you, let you tell us about yourself and your health, without bombarding you with insurance questions.

We find that a lot of the time these chats give us all of the information that we need, making the whole conversation feel much more comfortable and less abrupt than official insurance questions.

Once we have had this chat we will do research to find the best insurance for you. If you are happy with what is potentially on offer, we will then go through the more structured set of questions that are needed to submit your application to an insurer.

It is possible that the insurer will want to see a report from your GP, to confirm how the bipolar disorder has affected you in the past, and how your health is right now.

It is a good idea to prepare yourself that bipolar life insurance applications will focus upon how often you have symptoms and if there has been any recent self harm or suicide attempts. If you have, please do not worry, this does not mean that you cannot get insurance, it may just alter the insurers that we place your application with.

If your bipolar is well controlled, with no significant impacts on your daily living, then life insurance could be available. It is likely that any offer of life insurance that you get will come at non-standard rates, in the form of a premium increase.

Critical illness cover pays out a cash lump sum of money, if you are diagnosed with a medical condition that is listed in the insurer’s claims set e.g. cancer, heart attack, stroke.

Bipolar critical illness cover applications will need to detail how often your symptoms are active and whether you have had any suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts or self-harm. When you apply for critical illness cover, bipolar disorder that is well controlled with no other significant medical history, should be available. 

If the symptoms of your bipolar disorder are strong, or there have been recent episodes of self harm or suicide attempts, we may need to approach a specialist insurer for your critical illness cover.

Income protection pays you a replacement of your monthly income, if you are unable to work due to ill health.

When you apply for income protection, bipolar disorder must be thoroughly detailed to the insurer. You will most likely find that an insurer can offer you income protection, if you have been diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder.

People with type 2 bipolar disorder may be able to arrange income protection if the condition is well controlled, but it will likely come with a mental health exclusion. This will mean that if you are unable to work due to your mental health, you will not be able to make a claim.

There are specialist insurers that can offer income protection to people with type 1 bipolar disorder, but the acceptance criteria is quite strict. We strongly recommend that you speak with one of our advisers who can fully discuss the application process and potential terms and conditions of these policies with you.

When it comes to income protection, it’s not always easy to understand how much it can truly help you if you fall ill. It’s not just the money. It’s the extra services too like access to specialist nurses, support in getting back to work, the ability to spend time on you and your health without worrying about money.

The Seven Families was a charity-led campaign that was able to help Paul Norbert, after he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was unable to work. In this video you can hear Paul talking about how much their support helped him.

As an alternative you may wish to consider Accident, Sickness and Unemployment cover which is not medically underwritten. This means that you can have short-term (12 to 24 month) income protection regardless of your bipolar disorder.

However you must be aware that whilst these policies are accepted regardless of your medical history, they will also not pay out any claim that is a result of an existing condition i.e. bipolar disorder.

Off on holiday? We think it is a good idea to speak with a specialist travel insurance broker, that can direct you towards an insurer that will be supportive of your bipolar disorder. Please visit our dedicated travel insurance page here.

Hi, and welcome to the B section of the CuraVision ABC series. So, today I’m going to be talking to you about Mr. B. I’ll refer to him, probably, as Barry as I’m chatting. So, Barry came to us because he was going to be setting up a mortgage shortly with his partner, and his primary concern was having income protection, so, something there just in case he was unable to work due to ill health that his income would be replaced.

So, when Barry came to us, he was in his early 30s, his BMI was slightly above the normal range, but nothing that would worry an insurer. He was a smoker, which automatically, within the UK insurance industry, means that his premiums are automatically increased compared to what a non-smoker would pay.

The main reason that he came to speak to us was because he had a history of depression in his teenage years that had been combined with a number of suicide attempts, before he was properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Once he’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and he started treatments and some medication, his health became much better. His mental health stabilized, and he was now, say, a full-time worker, he was about to get a mortgage, and he had a partner. So he had clear protection needs, and we were obviously a number of years down the line from when those instances had happened.

Now, obviously Barry straight away had wanted income protection, and we knew quite quickly that long-term income protection wouldn’t be available at the moment, due to a recent flare-up in regards to some stress that had caused him to have some time off work recently, and also as well, critical illness wouldn’t be currently available. They would be, hopefully, in the next 12 months if the insurance industry sort of stays, as we anticipate.

So the intention is that, we have put some policies in place for him now, but in 12 months time, we will review his cover so that we can get those policies in place as he had wanted. We did suggest to Barry that he check with his employer as to whether or not they offer income protection and critical illness in what is known as a group scheme.

Because it is an employer, an employee benefit related scheme, but that wasn’t available, but he could’ve also might have been included, in those if he was eligible for them with his employer, regardless of his medical history. So what we did for Barry, for the short term is we arranged for him a short term income protection policy, which is known as accident and sickness cover.

What’s the beauty of these products is that they don’t take into account your medical history, when you are accepted for the policy. So it doesn’t matter what your health’s like, you can be accepted for the policy, but it’s very important and we made sure that it was very clear to Barry that any existing medical condition that you do have, will be excluded from the policy claims set for at least the first 12 months.

So, if he takes out the policy and he has time where he’s unable to work due to the bipolar or the depression, then he will not be able to make a claim on the policy for those, say for at least the first 12 months. We were also able to arrange for him the decreasing life insurance policy that mirrored his mortgage.

We spoke to an insurer who agreed that the suicide attempts had been more of a knock on effect of not having the proper diagnosis of the bipolar disorder and that now that he was a number of years down the line, having had the treatment and the medication, he was much more, in a sense stabilized. Obviously he’d had that flare up in regards to stress recently at work, but in general his health had obviously stabilized a lot more. His mental health.

So, the insurers have offered that to him, and it was what is known as non-standard terms, or special terms, which means that there was a premium increase placed on the policy. Whilst that may not seem ideal, it’s important to realize that with the U.K. life insurance policies, most of them will offer life insurance with potential claims for suicide, after the policy’s been in place for 12 months.

So with Barry’s history, it is understandable why they would’ve increased the premium on the policy for that. So, we were able to meet Barry’s end goal. So, he got an accident sickness policy that will provide a monthly replacement of income, tax free of £1400 per month, for a monthly premium of £15. The decreasing life insurance we were able to put in place for him of around £150,000 decreasing over 23 years for a monthly premium of around £35 per month.

In Angela’s case, we were able to, through the decreasing life and the level life policy, we were arranged for her roughly £155,000 worth of cover for 22 years for a monthly premium of approximately £19 per month. That gave her that piece of security, peace of mind, in a sense. That’s if to say, should the worst happen, her family would be financially secure. 

Please see our CuraVision Mental Health video here.

Case Study 1

Client: 56 year old non-smoker
Risk: Bipolar disorder (type 1)
Product: Decreasing Life Insurance
Amount: £100,000
Term: 15 Years
Premium: £41.86pm

Case Study 2

Client: 38 year old non-smoker
Risk: Bipolar disorder (type 1) and two suicide attempts
Product: Joint Decreasing Life Insurance (with partner)
Amount: £250,000
Term: 28 Years
Premium: £48.68pm

Case Study 3

Client: 33 year old smoker
Risk: Bipolar disorder, depression, suicide attempts
Product: Short term income protection
Amount: £1,400pm
Claim Period: 12 months
Premium: £15.68pm

What is Bipolar Disorder

There is no specific known cause for bipolar disorder though there is a general belief that it can be a result of genetics, chemical imbalance or triggered by a highly stressful event. Bipolar disorder is generally experienced in bouts of depression (extreme lows) of six months or longer and periods of mania (extreme happiness) of four months or longer.

The mood swings can happen more frequently over a period of a few hours, at which point mixed bipolar episodes may be diagnosed. Cyclomthyic mood disorder is a milder form of bipolar and is often undiagnosed. Symptoms will have lasted at least two years and have a regular impact on your day to day activities for a diagnosis to be made.

The Seven Families was a charity-led campaign with a dedicated mission to show the true value of protection insurance. They chose seven people to help and support, one of which was Paul Norbett a gentleman who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

In this video talks about his experiences living with bipolar disorder.

Also: Manic depression, type 1, type 2, mixed bipolar episodes and cyclomthyic

Linked with: Clinical depression, mental health, suicide attempt, suicidal thought, anxiety

Some potential problems experienced by individuals who have bipolar disorder include:

    • Difficulty eating
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Excessive spending
    • Extreme happiness (hypomania)
    • Feeling overly down
    • Hallucinations
    • High and low mood swings
    • Psychosis
    • Rapid cycling
    • Rash decisions
    • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Camcolit
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Chlorpromazine hydrochloride
  • Haldol
  • Haloperidol
  • Lamictal
  • Lamotrigine
  • Li-Liquid
  • Liskonum
  • Lithium Carbonate (Priadel tablets)
  • Lithium citrate (Li-Liquid, Priadel liquid)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Prochlorperazine maleate
  • Prochlorperazine mesilate
  • Quetiapine fumarate (Seroquel)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Sodium Valproate
  • Valproate semisodium (Depakote)

Common Questions

Yes we can. Some insurers are cautious about giving life insurance to people with mental health conditions, throw in previous suicide attempts, and they can get even more nervous. The important thing to know, is that there are insurers out there than can give you Life Insurance. Where one insurer may decline you Life Insurance, another can offer it to you at a higher premium than the basic rate.

Its not likely. When it comes to income protection, mental health conditions are one of the highest claim areas that insurers have. As you already have a mental health condition, the insurers are going to be see you as a higher risk for other mental health illnesses, and will add an exclusion to the policy. There are some income protection policies that you could look at, but the claims criteria are quite strict.

A few things. We need to know when you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, what medication you take, if you have had any episodes of self harm, and how it affects your daily living. We also need to know a few other standard things like your height and weight, how much alcohol you drink, if you are smoker, etc. There are more questions that you will be asked about the bipolar disorder, but it should cause you no concern at all. It is important that you feel supported and listened to when you apply for your Life Insurance. The questions that are asked of you are there to give the insurer a general picture of your health in the past, and how you are now. If at any point you do not feel comfortable talking about your bipolar disorder, then you can simply stop. It is important that you know that there are specialist insurances that you can apply for, that will not require to talk about your bipolar disorder in detail, but you will generally find a greater value for money if you do answer the questions set by standard insurers.

Client Reviews

The Special Risks Bureau has been rated 5 out of 5 based on 417 reviews.

Review by Christopher on 3rd November 2017

An outstanding level of service. The team took the time to understand my needs and advise accordingly as well as source the best cover and price for me. Cannot recommend highly enough. - 5 

You can read more of our reviews here.

Bipolar Disorder & Life Insurance

Client Reviews

Bipolar Disorder & Life Insurance

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