In the wake of Robin William’s death I believe he would appreciate some honest and open dialogue about mental illness and in particular his nemesis, bipolar disorder. For anyone that might think I’m just trying to milk a key word moment out of tragedy, you haven’t followed my forum. Over the years I’ve put more writing time and passion in life insurance mood disorder underwriting, suicide, and in particular the underwriting of bipolar disorder. I’ve worked hard to make sure those with bipolar, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders know that not all life insurance companies will turn their back on your request for family protection. So, for Robin Williams I want to touch on a couple of points that might help others.

My blogging efforts in respect to bipolar and life insurance has helped so many people who had given up on ever having coverage finally fulfill their desire. There’s nothing magic about it, but it clearly points the way, the path, to life insurance approval for those who have have mood disorders but have been blessed with good control. So would Robin Williams have qualified given the criteria? I don’t know all of the specifics of his battle with depression and bipolar, but based on what I’ve read I would guess that he probably would not have been approved. While he seemingly had good control over his disorder, that was the public image we all saw and loved. By all accounts he kept the worst of times to himself or at least out of the public eye. This lack of overall stability, no doubt documented in his medical records, would have given pause to a life insurance underwriter. The deep, chronic depression he suffered, from what I’ve read often accompanied by suicidal thoughts, would have led Robin Williams to a life insurance decline.

But another topic I’m sure he would want covered is the subject of suicide. If there was a point where Robin Williams was approved for life insurance, after yesterday’s event far too many people are under the impression that the policy wouldn’t pay because the death was due to suicide. This is such an important point, one that I’ve touched on frequently just because people, widows and beneficiaries, need to know. Life insurance companies don’t contest the benefit if the suicide occurs after the policy has been in force for two years (one year in a few states). By law they have to pay the death benefit. Beneficiaries often assume the suicide death claims would not be paid and they don’t file claims. I’ve had clients tell me that they are already devastated by the loss and don’t want to file a claim, only to have it denied for what they see as a logical reason. Logical or not, if you have a loved one who died from suicide and they had life insurance in force at the time, file a claim. Even if it was years ago. There is no statute of limitations on life insurance claims.

Bottom line. From one of my own policies, “If the insured, whether sane or insane, dies by suicide within two years from the issue date, this contract will end and we will return the premiums paid. The contract will provide no further benefit.” Within two years! After two years a claim involving suicide would be processed as quickly and paid in full just as it would any other cause of death. If you have questions please call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.

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