I’ve seen some pretty silly assumptions made by life insurance underwriters in the mood disorder arena, anxiety, ADD, depression, OCD and bipolar disorder. Not that long ago a client came to me after being declined because she took Lamictal for depression. Lamictal, while most often seen in the treatment of bipolar disorder, can be a very effective control for depression, but the company guidelines were so strict with the medication that they didn’t even bother to review the records. Kind of guilt by association. If you medicate like someone with bipolar, then you are one or something like that.
Personally I’ve taken Prozac for probably far long than I really needed to, but in the mood disorder realm, Paxil and Prozac present about as scary a life insurance underwriting picture as a daily baby aspirin. Most of us start taking it because of some rough patch in our lives and when we find out that the ups and downs aren’t nearly as bumpy as they used to be, well, why would you stop. There is an assumption that situational depression or anxiety should respond well to short term treatment and therefore life insurance underwriting leans more toward the preferred rate classes for mild or situational issues that are easily controlled. Life insurance underwriters get that life, even normal every day life, is stressful as is documented by the fact that 62% of underwriters take some kind of mood disorder stabilizing medication (made that up but it’s probably not far off). And the best of life insurance underwriters look not at the medication but the effect. Does it provide stability and the ability to move through life normally, working, marrying and having children?
So back to Lamictal and life insurance. Is Lamictal seen as a heavier hitter than Prozac in mood disorder treatment? Well, it is. After all you don’t see a lot of folks treated for bipolar disorder with Paxil or Prozac, but if Paxil or Prozac doesn’t bring the best results with situational depression or anxiety, should a life insurance applicant be hit because they used a different drug to produce the same long term stability that all underwriters would like to see? Well, there’s the answer that comes from the world according to Special Ed and then there is reality. Reality is that the life underwriters will see the mood disorder as more severe if Lamictal needs to be called into the game and you likely won’t get the best rate class they offer, but you will likely be approved and at very fair rates if your agent did their due diligence in shopping for life insurance case.
Bottom line. It’s mostly all about effectiveness in life insurance underwriting, but not quite. David killed Goliath with a rock. Could have used a small nuclear weapon but he might have been accused of overkill, and the use of nuclear weapons might have affected his life insurance rates. If you have questions or feel that you have been overly stomped upon due to your mood disorder or other impairment, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk.