The amount of misinformation, or overblown information concerning bipolar disorder is troubling especially to those who are trying to overcome the stigma in their lives and in quests such as trying to apply for life insurance. Bipolar disorder, for many, conjures up images of a completely dysfunctional person who on a good day is riding a manic high and trying to make the world happy and on a bad day is, well, wanting to end the day by suicide.
The truth is that for some bipolar disorder can be an all consuming monster and unfortunately, for those who aren’t able to get it under control, it can end tragically. That, in my experience, would be the minority. I am finding out that it is far more common to run into fully functional doctors, lawyers, CEO’s and moms who are able to juggle all the responsibilities of life and find a balance that works with bipolar treatment and stability. What I am finding is that more often than not, bipolar is an issue that life insurance companies are willing to consider and accept.
There’s needs to be an asterisk by that last paragraph. When I say insurance companies I most assuredly don’t mean every insurance company. Many companies have very conservative underwriting guidelines and their underwriters don’t have the flexibility to say there is a difference between one person with bipolar and another. They have one bipolar bucket and it has the word decline written on it.
Other companies take the route of approving policies but rating them so highly that, if the price doesn’t scare you away, they know that they are over compensated for any perceived risk. It is the third set of companies that we are looking for. We want companies that will look at the following criteria and make a prudent and reasonable judgment as to risk and price.
1. No suicide attempts or bouts with suicidal ideations.
2. No hospitalization in the last 10 years for bipolar, other than for the purpose of diagnosis.
3. A history of being compliant with treatment, both with medications and office visits.
4. A stable job history. This is not to say that you can’t have changed jobs ever. I think I read somewhere that the average person changes jobs every 3-5 years. Inability to keep a job would not be considered stable.
5. A stable family life and functional in society.
6. Not on disability due to bipolar. Disability sort of self defines itself as not being fully stable or functional.
As mentioned, I am finding more often than not that these criteria, even if a little rough around the edges, are doable by large numbers of those who might otherwise be thrown in the decline bucket. There are companies that are willing and eager to write life insurance for you and the rapidly increasing number of clients I have who are diagnosed bipolar is proof.
Bottom line. Don’t tackle this situation without an independent agent. It is that independence that allows us to avoid those decline buckets. Don’t use an agent who can’t intelligently talk to you about your disorder. If they aren’t familiar with it they won’t be successful at shopping it. Don’t (DO NOT) go to your local auto and homeowners agent and expect success. They have a decline bucket the size of the Grand Canyon and aren’t bashful about using it.