Life insurance for family. How to get life insurance after a mental health problem

Y ou and three friends are chatting over coffee and dessert after a meal that, apart from the slightly burnt roasties, was a treat. Statistically, one person around the table will have had a mental health problem at some point in their lives. How to get life insurance.

One fear that can arise because of a mental health problem is that a sudden accident on the way home from a meal with friends would leave your loved ones unprotected financially – because no one will give you life insurance.

Thankfully this is far from the case. According to independent financial adviser Lifesearch, insurers now take a more nuanced approach to mental illness, giving you or your loved ones more options to protect the people closest to you.

Is cover possible?

Yes. The good news is most people who have experienced some type of mental illness will be able to get cover, many at standard terms too, so no hefty hikes in premiums.

Why is mental health a risk?

For life cover plans, suicide is the main concern as most insurers will pay out for this from one year after the policy was bought. There is also the relationship between poor mental health and poor physical health, which could lead to early deaths. For example poor eating habits, poor management of other health issues, alcohol and drug misuse can be related to mental health issues.

W here there is a cause for the mental illness, such as bereavement or divorce, this poses a lower risk than if there is no clear explanation for the illness. Most clients will be able to get cover, though more serious instances such as suicide attempts and episodes needing psychiatric treatment could lead to larger increases or being declined.

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The mainstream providers do offer cover to most people with mental illnesses, but an expert protection adviser will be able to use the differences in questions asked and underwriting approach to find the best solution.

What not to do

Rob Harvey, head of protection advice at Drewberry, says the main thing is not to be embarrassed about disclosing mental health problems.

“Mental health problems are medical conditions and should be considered no differently to physical health conditions. However, we find clients are sometimes unwilling to disclose they’ve sought treatment for their mental health in a way they wouldn’t be if they’d had chemotherapy for cancer, for instance.

“Advisers and insurers are used to dealing with medical conditions, both physical and mental, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed about your medical history.

“As with all insurance applications, when you’re applying for life insurance it’s vital you’re open and honest. A tiny percentage of life insurance claims are declined each year, but the main reason is due to issues of non-disclosure at application stage, for example omitting to say you are taking medication.

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“When it comes to mental health, it’s important to note insurers are especially cautious when considering periods of hospitalisation, referrals to a psychiatrist or any episodes of self-harm, suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide.

“Above all, comparing the market via a whole of market insurance expert is essential for anyone with a medical condition, regardless of what it might be.

“Having a mental health condition doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to get cover. But there’s no one-size-fits-all approach from insurers, so there could be a significant variance between providers.”

Top tips

Don’t just choose the cheapest policy online or through a non-advised firm. Speak to an independent protection adviser who will be able to advise on the options available based on your circumstances and find the best insurer for you

Have details about your medical history to hand when speaking to an adviser – exact diagnosis, name of medication, frequency of symptoms, last time symptoms occurred and when diagnosed.

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If you do get accepted with an increase because of a recent history of mental illness, yet go on to be symptom-free for a few years, it’s worth reviewing your policy again later on as cover could be accepted at standard terms, which could save you money. Your adviser will be able to advise when will be the best time to do this.

l aura.miller@telegraph.co.uk

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