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I was involved in an exchange on the Bipolar Disorder Forum of eHealthforum several months ago. A person had been declined for life insurance and wanted to know if that was just the reality of bipolar disorder or if someone knew how to navigate what was turning out to be a rough road.

The person asking for help had been declined for life insurance several times due to bipolar disorder and they were ready to throw in the towel, kind of the three strikes you’re out line of thinking. One wife shared that they had been able to get life insurance on her bipolar husband. Encouraging but really no details that this damaged shopper could get their teeth into

An agent suggested that it was unlikely they could get traditional life insurance given all of the declines and that they should consider a guaranteed issue graded death benefit policy. This is exactly the problem with too many agents. They see a decline, assume it’s completely justified and either walk away or recommend guaranteed issue, all without knowing anything other than the general diagnosis. And many agents simply take the scare tactic path of selling nothing but guaranteed issue life insurance, trying to make everyone believe that, well, at least they won’t get declined or even rated.

I shared my general thought on most declines and that is that, rather than being a dead end, it simply means that it is a case of having used an agent that was in over his head helping someone with a disorder he didn’t have experience with. It is true that there are underwriters out there who will never have had the pleasure of processing an approval on a bipolar life insurance application. On the other hand I work with underwriters all the time who, given reasonable parameters, will give their blessing to the exact same application.

If anything I am consistent, especially when I find something that works. I offered the same criteria I try to include every time I speak to the subject of any of the mood disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and especially bipolar disorder. Given these approval guidelines and the right agent there is a high likelihood of reasonable rates.

1. Other than for diagnosis, no hospitalization for bipolar in the last 10 years
2. No suicide attempts or suicidal ideations
3. You can’t be on disability for bipolar
4. You have to be compliant and consistent with your treatment, both medicine and consistent psychiatric followup
5. You have to have a stable home and work life
6. The best rates are usually when treatment doesn’t include anti-psychotic drugs

Bottom line. The chances of finding the wrong agent are very good, unfortunately, so focus. Ask questions and make sure your agent knows about your disorder. Pay attention to the questions the agent asks. You can tell a lot about what a person knows by what they ask. If you happen to pick the wrong agent and get declined, don’t get discouraged. It’s a fight that can be won.