How Depression Affects Life Insurance


Though depression is often thought of as a psychological disorder, it is one that can also have implications for your physical health as well. Life insurance companies are aware of this connection, and will pay close attention to your history with the condition. They may charge higher premiums as a result of depression.

What constitutes depression?

Depression has certain telltale signs – it isn’t just a matter of “feeling bad” sometimes. Insurance companies will look for a history of depression, including the frequency of occurrence. Some of the more objective signs include:

  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Excessive guilt or a sense of worthlessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Treatment in a hospital or outpatient clinic
  • Use of medications to control the condition
  • And even a pattern of frequent job loss

Depression and the effect on health

Though suicide may seem to be the most relevant issue from a life insurance perspective, the negative effects that depression can have on your health could be an indicator of acute physical stress that may lead to premature death.

Chronic depression could lead to a weakened immune system, elevated blood pressure and ultimately cardiovascular problems. This can come about due to poor lifestyle habits that can accompany depression, including poor eating and sleeping habits, a lack of exercise, and absence of social interaction and overall feelings of hopelessness.

Any of these can be health problems in themselves – they can combine to cause major health problems that a life insurance company will be keenly interested in.

Depression can raise life insurance premiums

As a result of the potential effect that depression can have on your physical health, life insurance companies will often charge higher premiums to those who have the condition. This does not mean that you will be unable to obtain life insurance as a result of previous bouts of depression.

In underwriting your life insurance application, the insurance company will be looking at the amount time that has passed since your last depression experience, as well as the frequency and any medications or other treatments you are receiving in order to control the condition.

Like any other illness, life insurance companies will be most concerned with how well the condition is controlled. The better control that is, the lower your premiums are likely to be.

Overall health and management of your condition are important

Perhaps the most important issue for a life insurance company is establishing the fact that depression is a previous condition, and not a significant current one. But they will also look at your overall health in general. The better it is, the greater the likelihood of both approval of your application and of lower premiums.

As you would with any other health condition, if you have depression it is important that you maintain your overall health at a high level. One of the issues that life insurance companies are particularly concerned with is multiple risks – for example, a history of depression in combination with another health risk factor, such as obesity, high blood pressure, or participation in dangerous activities.

Do what is necessary to maintain your overall health – get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and keep your weight as close to the desirable level for your height as possible. Be sure that you are treating any other health conditions that you have, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. And avoid dangerous hobbies, such as skydiving or deep-sea diving.

No matter what physical condition you have, what insurance companies are looking most closely at is your overall health, and that includes many different factors, many of which are within your ability to control.

Finally, there are many different life insurance companies available. Some prefer to avoid depression as a risk factor entirely, but others have a more positive view. Be sure that you are working with life insurance companies that are not only more likely to approve your application, but to do so in with a more favorable premium. A competent insurance agent or broker can help you with this.