Life Insurance for People With Bipolar Disorder

Finding affordable, traditionally underwritten life insurance for people with bipolar disorder can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. If you have mild, historically controlled bipolar disorder, you can qualify for the standard rating class for life insurance. However, life insurance for severe bipolar disorder will cost at least 25 percent more than average. Look for insurers that separate bipolar 1 and 2, those underwriters will be more educated about the nuances of your disorder.

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years' experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Dec 30, 2020

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Quick Facts

  • People with mild, controlled bipolar disorder can still secure traditional life insurance policies for a standard rate. If placed in a substandard risk category, your rates will be at least 35 percent higher than the base rate.
  • If your bipolar disorder is middling in severity, consider purchasing a guaranteed issue life insurance policy with a graded death benefit with only some medical questions asked.
  • If your bipolar disorder is very severe, you can purchase a graded death benefit life insurance policy with no medical questions asked, but your rates will be much higher than average.

Approximately 2.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. Bipolar disorder causes extreme shifts in energy levels and mood and can result in both manic and depressive episodes.

Because of the associated health risks, finding affordable, traditionally underwritten life insurance for people with bipolar disorder can be a challenge, but it is not impossible.

If you’re living with bipolar disorder, read our complete guide to learn what options you have for securing an affordable life insurance policy. We’ll look at all of your options, from guaranteed issue life insurance to no medical exam life insurance policies, and more.

Regardless of your health history, you can compare affordable life insurance rates for people with bipolar disorder by entering your ZIP code into our free tool above.

Life Insurance for People with Bipolar Disorder

When you seek out a life insurance policy, the insurance provider will gather medical information and background information about you to assess your risk during a process known as underwriting. The underwriter will assign you to a specific rating class.

Folks placed in the preferred or preferred plus category will receive the lowest life insurance premiums. Those who fall into the standard category will receive the average, or base, rates.

If you are not in the best health or have a pre-existing condition, you may fall into a substandard category, which means you will receive the highest rates.

If your bipolar disorder is very mild, with no other recent health concerns or medication changes, you may be placed into the standard rating class.

How do you know if your bipolar Disorder is mild and under control? If you follow your doctor’s orders, have no recent changes in your medications, are not using or abusing drugs, and have not attempted to commit suicide, most insurance providers will consider your symptoms to be lower-risk.

Unfortunately, most bipolar disorder clients will be placed in a substandard category. According to data reported by the National Alliance on Mental Health, 83 percent of all bipolar cases are classified as severe. That is a large majority.

What does that mean for your bipolar life insurance rates? If you fall into this category, expect to pay at least 25 percent more than the standard rates for a traditionally underwritten whole life insurance policy.

To give you a better idea of how much you might end up paying for life insurance as an adult living with bipolar disorder, we gathered rate data from State Farm for a $100,000 whole life insurance policy.

In the table below, we compare the rates people in the standard category pay and compare it to the rates people pay in the substandard category.

Average Monthly Life Insurance Rates for People with Bipolar Disorder: Standard Rates versus Substandard Rates
AgeStandard RatesSubstandard Rates (25% increase)
25-years-old$89.31$111.64
30-years-old$102.53$128.16
35-years-old$120.59$150.74
40-years-old$143.03$178.79
45-years-old$173.48$216.85
50-years-old$213.28$266.60
55-years-old$269.01$336.26
60-years-old$355.44$444.30
65-years-old$474.85$593.56
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As you can see, there are traditional life insurance options available for adults living with bipolar disorder. However, these rates are usually only available for people with mild, under control symptoms.

All of your medical records will be considered during the underwriting process, which will impact your overall rates.

If you have severe bipolar disorder that is under control, you still might be approved for a traditional policy depending on what company you pursue. Otherwise, you may need to consider a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.

If you have severe bipolar disorder that is not under control, then you will most likely not be approved for coverage. However, later in the article, we offer a few alternatives that you can still consider.

Is bipolar disorder a pre-existing condition for life insurance?

Life insurance companies do consider bipolar disorder to be a pre-existing condition. Unfortunately, there are many health and lifestyle risks associated with bipolar disorder that insurance providers believe to be concerning.

Some of the bipolar disorder symptoms that distress insurers are potential drug use or abuse, frivolous money spending or gambling, and suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide. In many cases, suicide voids a life insurance policy.

Everyone’s journey with bipolar disorder is different, and not every case is extreme. However, there are some bipolar disorder statistics that insurance providers view as being very high risk. Check them out.

  • 83 percent of bipolar disorder cases are classified as severe.
  • An estimated 25 – 50 percent of people diagnosed with bipolar have attempted suicide at least once.
  • An estimated 60 percent of people with a mental health disorder, including bipolar disorder, develop substance abuse issues.

To insurance providers, these statistics prove that people with bipolar disorder are not always safe to insure. Therefore, the condition is considered pre-existing and can cause your rates to increase, or can even cause your application to be denied.

As we touched upon earlier, if you have a high-risk pre-existing condition like bipolar disorder, expect to be placed in a substandard category for life insurance rates. At the least, your rates will be 25 percent more than the base rates regardless of what type of policy you purchase.

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Life Insurance Policies for People with Bipolar Disorder

You’ve seen the estimated rates for life insurance for bipolar disorder patients. Now let’s discuss the different life insurance policy options available for you. But to do that, we must separate the diagnosis of bipolar 1 from bipolar 2, which are the most common forms of the disorder.

A diagnosis of bipolar 1 is more severe than a diagnosis for bipolar 2. The symptoms of Bipolar 1 are more extreme. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the manic and depressive episodes associated with bipolar 1 last for at least seven days but are usually longer.

The symptoms are debilitating, sometimes to the point where the individual is unable to work or function normally.

On the other hand, the symptoms of bipolar 2 only include patterns of manic or depressive symptoms, not full episodes.

It is a good sign if the insurance provider you are working with charges different rates for bipolar 1 versus bipolar 2, as it proves the company knows about the nuances and is educated about the severity, or lack of severity, of your condition.

If your bipolar disorder is extremely mild and has been kept under control for at least three years, you may still be able to purchase a traditionally underwritten life insurance policy at standard rates.

Otherwise, consider purchasing a graded death benefit, or for severe bipolar, look into guaranteed issue policies with no medical questions asked.

Keep reading for more details about these policy types and how to be approved even if you have bipolar disorder 1 or 2.

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Life Insurance Policies and Bipolar 1

If you were diagnosed with bipolar 1, depending on how severe your symptoms are, you will most likely struggle to be approved of a traditional life insurance policy.

You should consider purchasing a guaranteed issue life insurance policy with a graded death benefit and no health questions asked.

Be warned, this is the most expensive policy option. You also must always pay your premiums on time or else you lose coverage.

Graded death benefit insurance is permanent, which means it will last for the duration of your lifetime. This type of policy differs from a traditional life insurance policy in that the death benefit is graded over time, so the benefits paid out will increase after a specific waiting period.

See more details about what a graded death benefit policy entails in the following video from eHowFinance.

If you purchase graded death benefit life insurance and pass away within the first 2 years of the policy, your beneficiaries will only receive the money you paid for the premiums. After the waiting period ends, your beneficiaries will receive the full death benefit.

The rates for this type of insurance policy are fixed. This means the premiums you pay will not change throughout the duration of your policy, which is good news for you. Why? Age affects the rates you pay for life insurance. The older you are, the higher your premiums will be.

A term policy expires after 10, 20, 30 years or more, depending on the details of your agreement. If you survive past the time when your term life insurance end of term date arrives, you will struggle to replace it with an equivalent policy for the same rates.

A guaranteed issue graded death benefit insurance policy will not expire in the same way.

Unfortunately, you should expect your costs for life insurance to be high if you pursue a policy in this way. Lower your rates by pursuing the right treatment for your bipolar disorder and getting your symptoms under control.

After a few years of better mental health, you’ll be able to qualify for a better rating class.

Life Insurance Policies and Bipolar 2

Bipolar disorder 2 is usually much milder and is easier to get under control. If you have bipolar 2 and have not had any recent medical changes, shifts in your medications, or other health concerns, then you have a few viable options for life insurance.

The first is to pursue a traditional policy at a standard rate. Many adults with a history of controlled bipolar disorder are able to easily secure a basic life insurance policy for the normal base rates. This is the most affordable option.

Compare quotes from multiple companies so you know with certainty that you’re getting the most affordable policy with the best benefits. While term life insurance quotes will be cheaper, this type of policy will expire.

If you outlive the policy terms and need to purchase more life insurance, you will not be able to buy life insurance for the same low rates.

If you are not placed in the standard risk category, you can also purchase a graded death benefit, but if you opt for some medical questions to be asked, you will receive lower rates than one with no medical questions asked.

This type of policy works the same way as the policy recommended for people with bipolar 1, but will cost less because you provided the insurer with more medical information. However, you could still be denied coverage if the insurer views your symptoms as being more severe.

Therefore, it’s extremely important that you ensure all of your medical records are accurate and detailed, and that the information you share with the insurer is also up to date. You will want to compare rates from multiple different companies so you can be certain you’re receiving your best rates.

Best Life Insurance Companies for People with Bipolar Disorder

The company you buy life insurance from matters. This is because the life insurance underwriting process is different for every insurance company.

Some companies are not as willing to take on a client with a history of poor mental health. Others will place potential clients with mild and controlled mental health disorders, like anxiety or depression, in the standard, preferred, and even super preferred rating tiers.

Compare rates from multiple companies so you know with certainty that you’re getting the coverage you need for your best possible rates.

This also means your accuracy and honesty when answering questions for a life insurance provider is vital. Some questions you can expect are as follows:

  • Have you ever been treated for and/or taken medication for bipolar disorder?
  • When were you diagnosed? Was the diagnosis mild, moderate, or severe?
  • What kind of medication are you taking? Have your medications changed in the past year?
  • Are you currently in psychotherapy treatment?
  • Have you ever been hospitalized due to bipolar disorder?
  • Have you recently attempted suicide?
  • How stable is your personal life?
  • How are you treating your disorder?

The underwriter will also ask you about other past or current medical conditions, treatments, and histories. All of your answers will be cross-referenced.

Therefore, the more honest you are, the more accurate your rates will be. However, this also means that inaccurate responses could lead to denial of coverage.

For example, if there is a discrepancy between the medications you list, and the medications found in your medical history, you risk losing coverage approval.

You are now an expert on securing life insurance for people with bipolar disorder. Traditional life insurance options are available for adults with mild bipolar symptoms that have been kept under control. Depending on your personal history, your rates could easily be standard.

Folks with more severe symptoms still have a few viable options, although you should expect to pay more for coverage.

No matter what your journey with bipolar disorder looks like, don’t wait to purchase the right life insurance policy; simply enter your ZIP code into our free online tool below to start comparing life insurance quotes for people with bipolar disorder.

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