How to Get Term Life Insurance With Depression

You can get term life insurance with depression, and our guide will teach you how to get the best quotes for life insurance with depression. Life insurance companies want to see that people with a history of depression have received or are receiving treatment.

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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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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

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 Benji Carr

UPDATED: May 12, 2022

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Quick Facts

  • If you have depression, you can still qualify for term life insurance coverage.
  • The more severe your depression is, the higher your life insurance rates will be.
  • If your depression is not well-maintained and under control, you may struggle to be approved for a life insurance policy.

Anxiety and depression are common ailments in our society. Can you get life insurance if you have depression? The good news is yes, you can qualify for coverage. Read through our comprehensive guide to learn how to get term life insurance with depression.

Not only is depression quite prevalent, but it’s present in several forms and levels of severity. How can you tell if your mood changes are normal or if you require treatment for depression?  Though we all like to self-diagnose, only a physician can determine if someone suffers from clinical depression.

So how do life insurance companies handle applicants with a history of depression? What do they look for? How can you prepare? Is affordable life insurance with depression possible? Our guide prepares you to get started with your application for life insurance terms.

Can you get term life insurance with depression?

If you have depression and no life insurance policy, don’t worry, we have good news. You can qualify for term life insurance when you have a history of depression.

However, when it comes to depression and life insurance, the severity of your condition may impact your rates. 

Your outcome and resulting premium cost will depend greatly on the type of depression you’ve been diagnosed with, your treatment history, the level of control, any follow up, your medical history, and more. 

Fortunately, you can control the outcome to some extent through good follow-up and lifestyle habits. However, other uncontrollable factors will come into play when the life insurance company reviews your application. Keep reading to learn more.

In the following table, we compare term life insurance rates people with varying levels of depression were able to secure, as well as an example of a declined policy. Check it out. 

Depression Scenarios and Term Life Insurance Policies
DetailsPerson #1Person #2Person #3
OutcomeApproved at a Preferred rating classRates Substandard, table 2 rating classDeclined
Annual premium$480$1,800Declined
DiagnosisSituational depression due to the loss of her motherMild bipolar disorderChronic depression
Age of diagnosis32-years-old38-years-old48-years-old
Current age36-years-old45-years-old52-years-old
Treatment detailsMedication and counselingMedicationMedication and therapy
Length of treatment6 monthsOngoing, condition is controlledOngoing, changed medication twice in past year
Rate of reoccurrenceNo recurrence of depression since treatment endedNo hospitalizations or suicide attempts1 suicide attempt in past 2 years
Other medical conditionsNo known medical conditionsHistory of high blood pressureNo known medical conditions
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As you can see, Person #1 had the best outcome and received the lowest rates. Her diagnosis was a common case of situational depression brought on by the sudden loss of her mother.

Her treatment was short but effective, and she has no recurrences and maintained her follow-up visits with her doctors. All of this helped her secure a Preferred rating class. 

Person #2 had a more severe form of depression. While his condition was under control, his medical history of high blood pressure put him at a higher risk, which led to a lower rating class and a higher premium. 

Finally, Person #3 experienced depression that was not well-controlled. Her recent changes in medications, coupled with the suicide attempt, resulted in her being declined for term life insurance.

Simply put, insurance is all about risk management. Proving you’re low-risk will always lead to better life insurance rates.

Keep reading to learn what steps you can take in order to receive great life insurance rates despite experiencing depression. 

What Life Insurance Companies Look For When You Have Depression

Let’s deep dive into the life insurance underwriting guidelines, which include your age, health history, and high-risk habits. The lower risk your depression proves to be, the better rates you’ll receive for term life insurance. 

Specifically, life insurance companies want to see that people with a history of depression have received or are receiving treatment, and have also completed regular follow-up visits per doctor’s orders.

To start, companies will consider the presence of necessary lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly, weight control, no tobacco use, or other positive habits.

The life insurance company you apply with will also be looking specifically at your age at the time of your diagnosis, as well as the amount of time that has passed since your diagnosis.

Companies will then factor in the duration and severity of your depression as well as the number of episodes per year you experience. If you use medication, you certainly can still qualify for term life insurance. Especially if you’ve maintained compliance with said medication.

Know that insurance companies will also look into if you require frequent changes in your medication. This is significant because the life insurance company must be sure the disorder is well controlled.

Of course, any suicide attempts or thoughts of suicide, and hospitalizations or emergency room visits for depression, and any concurring disorders will also be factored in, such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Finally, companies will consider any current alcohol or substance abuse, or history of such. And if you are disabled due to depression, or experience any other major health problems as a direct result of the condition.

It is important to note that if you’re seeking out depression treatment, your quotes will be lower than if you are not. Expect severe depression quotes to be higher and harder to come by than more mild clinical depression quotes.

How to Prepare for Your Term Life Insurance Application if You Have Depression

No matter your depression status, quotes for term life insurance depend on a multitude of factors. Let’s briefly discuss what steps you can follow to properly prepare for your term life insurance application

Being prepared with this information ahead of time will help your chances of getting approved for the best rating class possible.

Use our expert tips to put yourself in the best position to receive the most affordable rates.

First, have all of your doctors’ names, addresses, and phone numbers available. Also, make sure your doctor or doctors have copies of all records regarding your depression treatment and follow-up reports.

If applicable to you, you should also have a list of all medications and their dosages available as well. Make sure it is documented in your medical records what the effective medication and dosage are, as well as how long your symptoms have been well controlled with the current treatment.

If medications or dosages were ever changed or altered, be sure the reasons for the changes are documented in your medical records as well.

Finally, be sure the cause of the depression is well documented in your medical records. Depression can be situational, for example, perhaps your symptoms are temporary side effects of grief after you experienced the death of a loved one. 

Or maybe your depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, or even as a side effect of a medication you take for other reasons.

It is also important that you do not skip any follow-up visits with your doctor. This proves to the insurance company that you are responsible and are properly following up with professionals to treat and heal your condition. 

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What is depression?

Depression is characterized by a depressed or sad mood and a diminished interest in activities that were once pleasurable. Other symptoms include weight gain or loss, fatigue, guilt, difficulty concentrating, and recurrent thoughts of death, to name a few. 

Statistically, one in 10 Americans suffers from some form of depression. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 40 percent of adults reported struggling with mental health in the summer of 2020. That is a staggering number. 

The following groups are most likely to suffer from depression:

  • Women
  • Ages 45-64
  • Blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanics of other races or multiple races
  • Previously married people
  • Those with less than a high school education
  • Those unable to work or unemployed
  • Those with no health insurance

An individual is usually considered to be suffering from depression if he or she is experiencing five symptoms for two or more weeks. There are several types of depression, each with varying levels of severity. 

Learn more about the five most common types of depression in the following table.

Five Most Common Types of Depression
Depression TypeSymptoms
Major Depressive Disorder (Clinical Depression)Depression that is disabling,
Prevents normal day-to-day functioning.
Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)Less severe,
Not disabling,
Long-term depressed mood,
Lasting longer than two years.
Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive)Alternating between periods of clinical depression and mania (elevated mood).
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)Depression that occurs at the same time each year,
Typically occurs around the beginning of a new season,
Can occur in the fall, winter, spring, summer,
Fall and winter are the most common seasons.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)Severe anxiety that occurs as the result of exposure to a traumatic event,
Can be disabling,
Condition lasts more than 30 days.
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As you can see, there are many different types of depression, with varying levels of severity and causes. Some forms of depression are circumstantial, which will lead to better life insurance rates. However, more severe diagnoses can lead to higher rates.

Remember, in cases where depression is not fully under control, coverage may be fully denied. 

Summary of Depression and Life Insurance

We’ve helped thousands of people apply for term life insurance, and many of those people had a history of depression. Let’s discuss a few things we’ve learned throughout the process. 

Sometimes a medication used for depression is prescribed to treat some other unrelated disorder. Life insurance companies will sometimes assign lower rating classes due to the medication being taken.

Therefore if you do take a depression or anxiety medication to treat an unrelated disorder, it should be well documented in your records.

Well-controlled, mild, or moderate cases of depression will often be approved at a Standard rating class. Very mild cases of depression, or those that were situational and have since recovered, may be approved at a Preferred rating class. However, this is case by case.

Oppositely, the rating class will get worse, and the premium will be higher, along with the severity of the depression.

Similarly, the life insurance company will often postpone an application if the correct medication and dosage needed to control the depression have not yet been established.

The life insurance company will also usually decline applicants if there have been suicide attempts or thoughts of suicide.

The life insurance company will also usually decline applicants if the diagnosis is depression due to posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

You are now an expert on how to get term life insurance with depression. As always, please discuss your situation with your life insurance agent or broker, and provide as much information as you can. 

They will help direct you to the best life insurance company based on your individual circumstances. And if you are not pleased with the offer you receive, you can always apply to another company.

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