I was involved in an exchange on the Bipolar Disorder Forum of eHealthforum not too long ago. A person had been declined for life insurance and wanted to know if anyone knew the way out of the jungle.

The person asking for help had been declined for life insurance three times due to bipolar and they were ready to throw in the towel, three strikes you’re out. One wife shared that they had been able to get life insurance on her bipolar husband.

Another 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.

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 the person having used the wrong agent who used the wrong company. It is absolutely true that there are underwriters out there who will die never having had the pleasure of processing an approval on a bipolar application, but we work with underwriters all the time who, given reasonable parameters, will give their blessing to the same application in an instant.

I offered the same criteria I try to include every time I speak to the subject of any of the mood disorders, depression, anxiety, ADD, and especially bipolar disorder. Given these parameters and the right agent there is a high likelihood of approval at 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. With the number of life insurance agents out there, and the fact that at any given moment most of them are brand new or working for large internet agencies that don’t put a lot of emphasis on quality and effort, the chances of you finding the right agent who can find the right company are slim. I don’t say this to discourage anyone, but rather to possibly change your focus from a shotgun approach to a more focused search. Talk to a prospective agent and ask questions about bipolar disorder. If they don’t know how to answer your questions I assure you they are not the right agent.