I read a post on Twitter @bpluv today that really kind of drives home one of the points that I’ve been trying to make about the bipolar disorder/life insurance experience. It starts with the oh so true supposition that “Mental illness doesn’t make me crazy, just different”.

And more often that not the only person that notices the difference is the one that has bipolar disorder. But they live feeling different and when they are forced to openly admit they have bipolar disorder, such as on a life insurance application, they are often treated as if crazy until proven otherwise.

It is at this point that I truly believe not all life insurance agents should be allowed to talk to clients who have impairments that they are not familiar with. If the agent doesn’t know the nature of the disorder they won’t know what questions to ask. They won’t know what company to go to and they won’t know what will constitute a good shot at a good result. In a nutshell, they will be primed to waste the client’s time.

There are websites and forms out there that will tell an agent what questions to ask, but if they don’t understand what the answers to the questions mean, or what followup questions to ask to clarify the first question, well, it’s just doomed.

With the help from underwriters from several companies we have been able to develop a concise pre-screening set of questions for bipolar disorder. These questions don’t guarantee optimal results, but for those who get through this trial run, the likelihood is that we can get an approval at a reasonable rate.

1. Someone who has not been hospitalized for bipolar disorder other than for diagnosis?
2. Someone who has not attempted suicide or had bouts with suicidal ideations?
3. Someone who is compliant with their treatment, both medications and regular followups?
4. Someone who is leading a stable family life or social life?
5. Someone who is exhibiting a stable work life?
6. Someone who is not on disability for bipolar and does not have issues with drinking or drugs? If there’s a problem here, then the answers to 3, 4 and 5 are no.
7. We have found companies come through with better offers on single medications and with anti-seizure meds versus anti-psychotics.

Bottom line. There is hope out there for those challenged by bipolar disorder. The hope lies in finding agents that understand that while every tree in your forest might have bipolar disorder, it doesn’t mean that the entire forest is crazy.