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If you have bipolar disorder and have applied for life insurance then you might assume that life insurance underwriting of bipolar disorder is very straightforward. You apply. You tell them you have bipolar disorder. You get declined. With most companies it really is just that straightforward.

All life insurance companies choose underwriting areas that they don’t want to participate in. They really don’t have to justify that to anyone. It’s a business decision that may have to do with an unfavorable mortality experience, or it may have to do with an inordinately high underwriting cost or a high lapse rate. Their chief of underwriting might personally think that everyone with bipolar is crazy and therefore mandates an automatic decline. As mentioned, whatever their reason, they really don’t have to justify it to customers or governing authorities (state insurance commissions).

Having said that, and that stance would be accurate for the majority of companies, there are a handful of companies who are open to clinical underwriting of bipolar disorder. “Clinical underwriting”, a phrase coined by US Financial Life, simply means that their underwriting won’t throw everyone with the same health or mental issue into the same bucket. They don’t underwrite what a person has, as much as they underwrite how the person is dealing with it. Are they compliant with prescribed treatment? Is the treatment having the desired result? With bipolar, has the treatment resulted in stability in the person’s life? Can they hold a job? Is their family life stable? Are there any drug or alcohol problems?

What I’ve found in seeking out the best underwriting for bipolar is that far more are insurable at affordable rates than most people would guess. Bipolar disorder conjures up all sorts of images, but most people wouldn’t include in that photo album CEO’s and CFO’s of large and small companies, physicians, dentists, teachers and other successful professionals. The truth is that the image society has pinned on bipolar disorder doesn’t include all of the people that we interact with every day who, unless they tell us, will go down in our scrapbook as everyday normal people.

So what am I saying about bipolar life insurance possibilities? What I’m saying is that if you’re just starting your search, have hope. If you choose the right agent, and you’ll know because they will understand your issues and know what questions to ask, your chances of success are good. If you’ve already been declined, even multiple times, I don’t have to explain what kind of agent or agency to avoid. Take heart! Turn that book you’re writing about the abuses of the life insurance industry over to your new agent and let’s get the job done.

Bottom line. For the handful of life insurance companies who haven’t penned a big red line through bipolar disorder in the underwriting manual, let’s hear a cheer. These underwriters work hard to understand how to approve cases that most companies won’t touch. They make sure they’re analyzing real mortality risk and not perceptions of risk. These are the underwriters who turn declined life insurance into approved, in force life insurance every day.