The deeper I get involved with the life insurance possibilities for people with bipolar disorder, the more I am convinced that it has not been an intentionally abused block of clients as much as it has been and understudied and overlooked group.
When I was first approached about bipolar underwriting it was from a person who had been declined something like 8 times. The more I talked with this person about the impact of bipolar on their life, the less I understood about why this should lead to a decline. It seemed in many ways that he had his life more together than my totally normal, unpolarized self.
As I studied the disorder and found the truth about the marked difference between a severe case and a mild case, I began to talk to underwriters. Initially I found some interest in the business on the mild end of things, but I also found a lot of misinformation and confusion about bipolar. I literally ran into an underwriter who thought that if bipolar 1 was bad, then bipolar 2 must be horrible because the number is bigger. They now know the real difference after providing them with reference material.
But it was sad. Perfectly functional people were being declined by life insurance companies, not because they were a bad risk, but rather because the underwriters didn’t have the foggiest idea how to analyze the risk.
It seems underwriters have become so entangled in the black and white underwriting rules of the large reinsurance companies, that they have become lazy. Come on now. How much time and energy does it take to Google something?
Oh Yeah! I said Good in the title. A year later I can report that there are numerous companies that have embraced a more common sense underwriting for bipolar. They are beginning to understand that, just like diabetes, if someone understands that they have a potentially damaging disorder, and they get on board with treatment and they are faithful and compliant, the results provide less risk to the insurance company than someone who is unstable or out of control. The underwriters are beginning to see that with bipolar stability is the key. All of the bad things that can come from bipolar come from uncontrolled instability.
Bottom line. I had an email this week from someone with bipolar who asked, “Do I qualify for life insurance if I have bipolar disorder?” I responded that the answer might be yes depending on their answer to five questions. Have you been hospitalized in the last 10 years due to bipolar? Have you ever attempted suicide? Are you on disability due to bipolar? What medications are you taking and are you compliant about taking them as prescribed? Do you have a stable family and work situation?
Three no’s and two yes’s will get you in the door, and I am convinced that, while this may not be the majority of people with bipolar, it also might be. Unfortunately I didn’t hear back from that person. For those that fit the criteria, we have been enormously successful in getting fair rates approved.