I was asked by my office manager this morning if bipolar disorder/manic depressive disorder was more prevalent in people around her age, in her 30’s, than people my age, in my 50’s, because the majority of people who react to our advertising and blogs are younger.

My thoughts were that the response we get doesn’t necessarily mean that more people in her age group have mood disorders, but may be more indicative of two things.

1. Bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and depression today are better understood and less feared by underwriters than when I was her age. If, for instance, I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder 20 years ago my chances of getting any insurance company at all to consider accepting my mortality risk would have been somewhere very close to 0. I might have tried several times to get life insurance for my young family but with the chances at or near 0 of being approved, I would likely have racked up a string of declines.

2. By now, in my mid 50’s, I would have done the best I could to put some other plan in place knowing that life insurance companies didn’t want anything to do with me. Why, at this point, would I want to back track and put myself through the humiliation again?

I also reminded my office manager that we have been very successful in helping those my age and older who we have heard from. They actually, in the mind of underwriters, have something of a leg up on younger clients in that they are survivors and have stability written all over them. Bipolar disorder is one of those things that can tear you down at its’ worst and make you a stand out success at its’ best. By age 50 if someone has bipolar disorder they have most certainly taken one road or the other (through no fault of their own), and someone in their 50’s on the good side of things has established stability and control, business and family life with some certainty.

From the view of a life insurance underwriter, whether you are a 32 year old software engineer or at 56 year old actor or CEO, the same criteria lead to the best rates.

1. Someone who has not been hospitalized for bipolar disorder other than for diagnosis?
2. Someone who has not attempted suicide or had bouts with suicidal ideations?
3. Someone who is compliant with their treatment, both medications and regular followups?
4. Someone who is leading a stable family life or social life?
5. Someone who is exhibiting a stable work life?
6. Someone who is not on disability for bipolar and does not have issues with drinking or drugs? If there’s a problem here, then the answers to 3, 4 and 5 are no.
7. Better rates come with fewer drugs and without the need for anti-psychotic drugs.

Bottom line. Get the word out. Life insurance at fair rates is available at fair rates for people suffering the full spectrum of mood disorders. If you know someone who you think may have missed out on this evolution of underwriting, talk to them and steer them toward the answer they may have missed 20+ years ago.