Can You Get Life Insurance With Bipolar Disorder?

A mental health diagnosis like bipolar disorder can add a lot of uncertainty to your life. One of the many questions you might be trying to answer is, “Can I get life insurance if I’m bipolar?” The short answer is yes — with special considerations to keep in mind. 

Some life insurance companies will not extend coverage to a person living with bipolar disorder, even if it’s being managed. This is due to the impact of mental health conditions on life expectancy

Whenever you have a health condition that could shorten your lifespan, insurers are more likely to be concerned. During underwriting, they take steps to mitigate this risk, and in some cases, that means choosing not to insure certain conditions at all. 

The good news is that countless insurance companies will offer you a policy. In many cases, you may even qualify for standard terms. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is Bipolar Disorder?

If you’re concerned about your eligibility for life insurance due to health conditions, such as bipolar disorder or sleep apnea, rest assured that options are available. For more information on specific conditions like sleep apnea, you might wonder, can I get life insurance if I have sleep apnea? Please visit our detailed guide to understand the possibilities and limitations.

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition characterized by sudden changes in mood. A person living with bipolar will often swing from low to high. The low periods look like depression. The high periods look like mania or hypomania. 

In addition to impacting mood, bipolar disorder also sways energy levels, behavior, and attention. There are multiple types of bipolar disorder, but no two diagnoses are the same. The primary types include:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: Diagnosed after a person experiences one manic episode. 
  • Bipolar II Disorder: Diagnosed after a person experiences at least one episode of major depression and hypomania. No full manic episodes involved. 
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: This is a milder form characterized by many periods of hypomania and depressive symptoms over a period of two years. In this case, the symptoms can’t be classified as episodes. 
  • Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar Disorders: When someone experiences symptoms of bipolar disorder but they don’t quite fit into one of the above categories, they are classified here.

Untreated or poorly managed bipolar disorder can lead to major consequences. That includes poor job performance, job loss, and a higher risk of self-harm. 

Insurers will consider the severity of your diagnosis. However, they’ll primarily focus on how long you’ve been treating your condition. 

Getting Coverage with Bipolar Disorder: What To Expect

Life insurance companies use a process known as “underwriting” to decide the risk associated with issuing you a policy. Your bipolar diagnosis will be factored in, but it’s far from the only aspect they’ll consider. 

When underwriting your application, life insurance companies will consider the following. 

  • Your current lifestyle choices: Everyone applying for life insurance is subject to a thorough evaluation. That means considering if you smoke, drink, or participate in dangerous hobbies (like skydiving). 
  • Your overall health status: Co-occurring conditions or a history of substance use will impact your life insurance options. Insurers will also consider factors like your age and weight. But, simplified and guaranteed issue policies do not require a medical exam.
  • How you’re managing your bipolar disorder: Insurers want to know if you’re actively adhering to a treatment plan. That could include taking medication or seeing a therapist regularly. 

These factors will help underwriters determine which risk category you fit into. If you’re bumped into a higher risk category, you may be subject to higher premiums. It can also change the terms of your policy. 

What questions can I expect if I have bipolar disorder? 

You might be asked a variety of questions while applying for life insurance. It’s important that you answer all of them honestly, to the best of your ability. 

Some questions you might expect include:

  • When did you first experience symptoms of bipolar disorder? When were you first diagnosed?
  • What treatment options have you tried? What treatment options are you currently using?
  • What medications are you currently taking? Have any of your medications changed? 
  • Is your current treatment effective? How long have you been receiving effective treatment?
  • Has your bipolar disorder ever led to hospitalization? Has it led to work absences? 

You can still get life insurance if you don’t want to answer any questions. Special types of policies, like guaranteed issue whole life, require no exam or questionnaire. However, you’ll pay higher premiums as a result. 

Can I Get Term Life Insurance with Bipolar Disorder?

Term life insurance is the most affordable type of life insurance because coverage lasts for a fixed period (between 5 and 40 years). 

With lower premiums, term life allows you to secure a sizable death benefit. On the flip side, there’s a chance that you outlive your policy. That’s one way that insurance companies mitigate their risk.

How Term Life Insurance Companies Underwrite for Bipolar Disorder

The more stable and well-managed your bipolar disorder is, the less it will impact your term life insurance options. To assess this, underwriters will look at factors like:

  • Severity of Your Diagnosis: How frequent are your episodes? How recently have you been hospitalized or missed work due to an episode?
  • Stability of Your Mental Health: What treatment methods are you currently using? How long have you been using them? Are they effective? 
  • History of Harmful Behavior: Do you have a history of substance use? Have you ever experienced suicidal thoughts? 

To help confirm the answers you give to them, life insurance companies will check your prescription drug history.

The Best and Worst Companies for Term Life Insurance with Bipolar Disorder

Many companies don’t offer term life to those with bipolar disorder. This is due to how bipolar disorder impacts life expectancy. 

American Amicable, Americo, Mutual of Omaha, and Prosperity all decline coverage for people with bipolar disorder — whether or not they’re actively treating it. 

However, Foresters offers term life coverage for anyone who has not been treated for bipolar disorder in the last ten years. You can get a simplified issue term life policy from them without a medical exam. 

Can I Get Whole Life Insurance with Bipolar Disorder?

Whole life insurance is more expensive than term life. But whole life insurance offers permanent coverage. That means your policy will never expire, and your premiums will never increase. For that reason, whole life offers immense peace of mind.

By adjusting the death benefit of your whole life policy, you can lock in an affordable rate. 

Here’s what you need to know about the different types of whole life policies you may be offered as someone with bipolar.

How Whole Life Insurance Companies Underwrite for Bipolar Disorder

Every company has its own underwriting criteria. But bipolar disorder may not impact your whole life options as much as you think. 

Countless companies will still offer you level terms on a simplified issue whole life policy. That means there is no waiting period. From day one, you’ll be entitled to the full death benefit on your policy.

However, a few offer what’s known as a “graded” policy—especially if you’ve been treated in the last 2-4 years.

Here’s what you need to know about the options you’ll see:

  • Level whole life policies: Level whole life policies provide full coverage from day one. This means if you buy a $50,000 policy, your family will get the full amount even if you pass shortly after. 
  • Graded whole life policies: Graded whole life policies have a lower death benefit for the first 2 years. During that period, the benefit typically equals the premiums paid plus a small amount of interest. After that period, the death benefit increases to the full face amount.

A graded policy can still be a good option for someone with bipolar disorder since the graded period only lasts 2 years. After that, it’s no different than having a level policy (although you will pay higher premiums). 

The Best and Worst Companies for Whole Life Insurance with Bipolar Disorder

Only a few companies will outright deny a whole life policy to someone for having bipolar disorder. However, some companies only offer graded policies to those who have recently received treatment. 

For example, AIG and Mutual of Omaha both offer graded options if you have been treated within the last four years. After that, you can qualify for a level or preferred policy. 

Prosperity only offers graded options, no matter how long ago you received treatment. 

Ideally, you’ll get level terms no matter your treatment history. Some companies offering this include Aetna, American Home Life, Americo, CVS Health, and Royal Neighbors.