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Still fresh in my mind is the story a client related to me about her experience of being declined for life insurance due to bipolar disorder. This was news to her since she didn’t have bipolar disorder.

In talking through the situation with her she did bring up the fact that she was treated for ongoing depression with the drug Lamictal. Lamictal has several uses, but because of the magic of television advertising, probably the best known is its’ use for bipolar disorder. It isn’t mentioned in the ads, but it is also commonly used for seizure disorders and, lo and behold, depression.

The decline from this company came without ever requesting medical records. There was a leap of assumption on the part of the underwriter that this client had put down depression, but the problem was really bipolar disorder and this leap of assumption was based solely on the medication. We shopped this case for her and detailed everything up front including what the other company had done and we were able to get her an approved policy at standard rates, a fair rate given her history of depression.

The knee jerk reaction from the majority of life insurance companies when it comes to depression, anxiety disorders and bipolar disorder is unfortunate. A large percentage of these folks are wearing the sign and taking the medication and leading normal lives. They hold down jobs, have healthy family and community lives, don’t sit around thinking about suicide, aren’t in and out of hospitals, comply with their treatment programs and in general are no more of a mortality risk than the average person that doesn’t have one of these issues or at least hasn’t been diagnosed with it yet.

A little friendly advice if you happen to be part of one of these groups and need life insurance. First, don’t go to your State Farm agent (or whoever handles your auto and homeowners). Those companies are licensed to sell life insurance but it is definitely not what they’re good at and the agent is licensed to sell the product, but they have no training in how to find you fair underwriting for your issue.

Second, don’t go to the big online insurance agencies. They are volume shops and writing a policy for someone with say, bipolar disorder, takes some time and doesn’t fit into their style of doing business. You are going to clog up their well oiled machine and while they might find you an approval, it’s not likely to be the best one out there for you.

Third, do find an independent agent who has a background and track record in dealing with your particular issue. You’ll know when you talk to them because we ask questions that will tip you off to the fact that we’ve been there before. We won’t just take down minimal information and run quotes for you. We’ll take a lot of information and then take the time to shop it for you.

Bottom line. Take heart! While the majority of life insurance companies are very conservative and would prefer to skirt around the whole issue of mood disorders, there are 15-20 companies out there that really have their head screwed on right and know how to fairly underwrite your case.