Unraveling the Complexities of Life Insurance with Bipolar Disorder

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16 Minute read

Originally published: August 29, 2023

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Talk to one of our experienced advisors today!

16 Minute read
Originally published: August 29, 2023

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Life insurance is often considered a cornerstone of sound financial planning, offering peace of mind that your loved ones will be financially secure after you’re gone. But what happens when you’re seeking life insurance and you have bipolar disorder? The landscape suddenly becomes more complicated. The questions multiply: Will I even qualify for a policy?

In this blog, we’ll delve deep into the complexities of obtaining life insurance when you have bipolar disorder. From understanding the types of policies you may qualify for to exploring how premiums are calculated, we aim to offer you a comprehensive guide that demystifies the process. Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed or have been managing your condition for years, our goal is to arm you with the knowledge and resources you need to make informed decisions for your future.

Overview of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). It’s a complex disorder that affects not only mood but also energy levels, attention, and other behaviors. There are several types of bipolar disorder, the main ones being:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: Marked by at least one manic episode, which may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or depressive episodes.
  • Bipolar II Disorder: Characterized by at least one episode of major depression and at least one episode of hypomania but no full manic episodes.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: A milder form involving many periods of hypomania symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years, but the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for hypomanic or depressive episodes.
  • Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar Disorders: Symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not match the three categories listed above.


  • Mania
  • Elevated or irritable mood
  • Increased energy and activity
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Rapid speech
  • Impulsivity, poor judgment
  • Grandiosity, inflated self-esteem
  • Hypomania
  • Depression
  • Low mood
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, many people manage their symptoms effectively with treatment and lead fulfilling lives. However, untreated or poorly managed bipolar disorder can lead to severe consequences, including poor job performance, damaged relationships, and an increased risk of suicide.

If you suspect you have bipolar disorder or another mental health condition, consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Case Study: Life Insurance for Emily With Bipolar Disorder

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Background: Emily is a 28-year-old mechanical engineer. She was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder at the age of 28. Although she’s been able to manage her condition effectively through medication and regular counseling, she’s been hesitant to apply for life insurance, fearing high premiums or outright denial. She is married and has one child, which makes her more concerned about securing her family’s financial future.

Objective: Emily’s main goal is to obtain a term life insurance policy that offers a death benefit of at least $500,000. She wants a 20-year term to cover her until her daughter completes college.


  1. Consult a Financial Advisor: Emily starts by consulting a financial advisor with experience in high-risk insurance cases.
  2. Medical Review: With her doctor’s assistance, Emily compiles her medical records, including details about her medication and treatment history, to prepare for the insurance application process.
  3. Insurance Shopping: Emily and her advisor shortlist insurers that are known for being more accommodating to applicants with mental health conditions.
  4. Application Submission: Emily fills out several applications, making sure to answer all questions honestly and attach all required medical documents.


  1. Higher Premium Rates: Emily receives several quotes and finds that her premiums are indeed higher than average due to her condition.
  2. Medical Exam Requirement: One insurer insists on a medical exam and psychiatric evaluation, adding more steps to her application process.


  1. Negotiation: With the help of her advisor, Emily negotiates the premium rates, arguing that her condition is well-managed, as evidenced by her medical records and stable job history.
  2. Group Policy: Emily also discovers that her employer offers a group life insurance policy. She decides to supplement her individual life insurance with her company’s group policy to increase her total coverage without significantly raising her premiums.
  3. High-Risk Insurers: Emily applies to a high-risk insurer specializing in cases like hers and finds that they offer a more reasonable rate.

Outcome: After much effort, Emily successfully secures a term life insurance policy with a $500,000 death benefit for a 20-year term. The premiums are higher than those for individuals without Bipolar Disorder, but they are affordable for her. Her employer’s group policy adds an additional $200,000 in coverage, providing her peace of mind about her family’s financial future.

Can I Get Life Insurance With Bipolar Disorder?

Yes! While getting life insurance with bipolar disorder may be more challenging, it is generally possible. Each insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines, and policies and premiums can vary widely, so it’s worth shopping around and consulting experts to find the best fit for your needs. Keep in mind that there are specific challenges and considerations you should be aware of:

Underwriting: Insurance companies use a process known as underwriting to assess the level of risk associated with insuring an individual. When you have a mental health condition like bipolar disorder, you may be classified as a higher-risk applicant. This classification could affect your insurance premiums or even your eligibility for certain types of coverage.

Premium Rates: If you’re approved for coverage, you may find that your premiums are higher than those for individuals without a mental health condition. Premium rates are determined based on a variety of factors, including your medical history, the severity and stability of your bipolar disorder, your treatment history, and other health indicators.

Medical Records: Expect to provide medical records as part of the application process. Some insurers may also require you to undergo a medical examination or complete a detailed questionnaire about your condition and treatment.

Waiting Periods: Certain policies may include a waiting period, usually ranging from a few months to a few years. During this period, the death benefit may not be paid out in full if the insured individual passes away.

Type of Policy: Depending on the severity and stability of your condition, you may find that some types of life insurance policies are more accessible than others. For instance, term life insurance policies might be easier to qualify for than whole life or universal life policies.

Specialized Insurers: Some insurance companies specialize in “high-risk” applicants, including those with mental health conditions. These specialized insurers may offer you coverage when others won’t, although the premiums are usually higher.

Honesty is Key: It is crucial to be honest when filling out your insurance application. Falsifying medical history or other important information could result in the policy being voided, meaning your beneficiaries would not receive the death benefit.

Group Insurance: If you’re currently employed, you might be eligible for group life insurance through your employer. These policies often have less stringent underwriting guidelines and may not require a medical examination, making it easier to secure coverage.

Consult a Professional: Given the complexities involved, it’s often beneficial to consult with a financial advisor or insurance broker who has experience with high-risk applicants. They can guide you through the application process and help you find a suitable policy.

What Life Insurance Companies Want to Know About Your Diagnosis

A diagnosis of bipolar disorder does not inherently disqualify you from life insurance coverage. You are more likely to be asked for additional information regarding your mental health history. Specifically, life insurance companies are interested in knowing:

  • The history of your bipolar disorder
  • How long you have received effective treatment 
  • Whether your mental illness has caused hospitalizations or work absences.
  • The number of medications you’ve taken 
  • If the medication you take has changed

The underwriters will classify your condition as mild, moderate, or severe depending on your responses.

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, particularly a milder form, but have had the condition under control for an extended period of time, you will likely qualify for the majority of life insurance policies. Depending on your diagnosis, your life insurance premiums may be affected. If you have recently begun treatment, life insurance companies may delay your application for a year or two to monitor your progress. 

There is a possibility, however, that a life insurer will deny your application if there is a high likelihood that your diagnosis will reduce your life expectancy. Sadly, individuals with bipolar disorder have significantly higher suicide rates than the general population. Alternatively, they may decide to offer coverage with specific exclusions and higher premiums.

How Does Having Bipolar Disorder Affect Your Life Insurance Premiums?

Having bipolar disorder can make obtaining life insurance more complicated, often leading to higher premiums due to the perceived higher risk associated with the condition. The extent to which your premiums are affected can vary based on several factors, including the severity and stability of your condition. For instance, if your bipolar disorder is well-managed through consistent medication and therapy, and you maintain a stable lifestyle, the impact on your premiums might be less severe. 

However, if you have a history of frequent episodes or recent hospitalizations, insurers are likely to view you as a higher risk, leading to increased premiums. Other medical conditions or lifestyle factors, such as substance abuse or obesity, can further amplify these costs. The length of time since your diagnosis and your treatment history can also play a role; a recent diagnosis or change in treatment could result in higher premiums. It’s important to remember that each insurance company has its own set of criteria for underwriting and assessing risk. 

As such, it can be beneficial to consult with a financial advisor or an insurance agent who specializes in high-risk cases to help you navigate the complexities and find a policy tailored to your needs.

Life Insurance Options for Individuals With Bipolar Disorder

It’s possible to qualify for various types of life insurance if you have bipolar disorder, although the process may be more challenging compared to those without a mental health condition. Here are some types of life insurance you may be able to secure:

  1. Term Life Insurance: This is often the most straightforward and affordable type of life insurance. It provides coverage for a specific period (e.g., 10, 20, or 30 years). Insurers may offer this to individuals with bipolar disorder, especially if the condition is well-managed. However, the premiums may be higher than average.
  2. Whole Life Insurance: This type of permanent life insurance provides coverage for your entire life and includes a cash value component. Qualifying may be more difficult if you have bipolar disorder, and if you do qualify, your premiums will likely be high.
  3. Universal Life Insurance: This is another form of permanent life insurance, offering more flexibility than whole life insurance. Like with whole life, premiums will likely be higher for those with bipolar disorder, and eligibility criteria may be more stringent.
  4. Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance: This type of insurance is available without a medical exam, but it comes with higher premiums and typically offers a lower coverage amount. Because there is no medical underwriting, people with bipolar disorder can usually get coverage, although it might be less than ideal due to its cost and limited payout.
  5. Group Life Insurance: Many employers offer group life insurance as a part of their benefits package. Under a group plan, you might not even be required to undergo a medical examination or provide a detailed medical history, making it easier for people with bipolar disorder to get covered. However, coverage amounts can be limited, and you may lose coverage if you change jobs.
  6. No Exam Life Insurance: Some companies offer policies that require no medical exam, although they may still ask health-related questions. Premiums for these policies are generally higher, and coverage amounts may be limited.
  7. Simplified Issue Life Insurance: This policy requires no medical examination but does include a series of health questions in the application. Approval is quicker but expect higher premiums if you have bipolar disorder.

When applying for life insurance, honesty is essential. Disclose your condition and treatment history fully, as failure to do so could result in your policy being voided. If you’re unsure of how to navigate the insurance landscape, consulting a financial advisor or insurance agent experienced in dealing with high-risk applicants can be extremely helpful. They can guide you through the complexities and help find a policy that suits your needs.

Do You Have to Disclose Your Bipolar Diagnosis?

Yes, it is crucial to disclose your bipolar diagnosis when applying for life insurance. Failing to disclose this information can result in the denial of a claim, or even the cancellation of the policy if the omission is discovered. Insurance contracts are based on the principle of “utmost good faith,” which means that both parties—insurer and insured—are obligated to disclose all relevant information honestly. Withholding such significant information as a bipolar diagnosis can be considered fraudulent and may void the contract.

Not disclosing your condition can create complications, not just for you but also for your beneficiaries. They could find themselves in a situation where the death benefit is not paid out, creating financial hardship at a time when they are already dealing with emotional loss.

However, it’s also worth noting that each insurance company has its own set of criteria for underwriting, so full disclosure allows the insurer to assess your case accurately and provide the most suitable terms for your policy.

Approaches to Secure Life Insurance When Living with Bipolar Disorder

Getting life insurance with bipolar disorder might present some challenges, but it’s not impossible. Here are some strategies you can employ to improve your chances of obtaining a policy that suits your needs:

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  • Consult a Financial Advisor: A financial advisor with experience in high-risk insurance cases can guide you through the complexities of the insurance landscape, helping you identify insurers who are more open to covering individuals with mental health conditions.
  • Prepare Medical Documentation: Having a comprehensive medical history at your fingertips will be beneficial. Records of your diagnosis, treatment, medications, and periods of stability can be persuasive in making a case for lower premiums.
  • Shop Around: Not all insurers have the same criteria or rates. It’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple companies and compare them, especially focusing on those known for accommodating high-risk applicants.
  • Be Honest but Strategic in Disclosures: It’s essential to be truthful on your application to avoid future complications. However, make sure you also highlight periods of stability and effective treatment to present a more rounded picture of your condition.
  • Consider a Term Policy: Term policies often require fewer medical disclosures than permanent ones and may have less stringent underwriting requirements. They also tend to be more affordable.
  • Check Employer’s Group Policy: Many employers offer a basic group life insurance policy that doesn’t require a medical examination. While this might not be enough coverage on its own, it can serve as a supplement to an individual policy.
  • Negotiate: If you’re quoted a high premium, don’t hesitate to negotiate. If your condition is well-managed, use your medical documentation to argue for a reduced rate.
  • Opt for High-Risk Insurers: Some insurers specialize in high-risk applicants and may offer you a more reasonable rate compared to standard insurers. However, these policies may have other limitations.
  • Regularly Review the Policy: If you initially face high premiums due to your condition, remember that you can always review your policy in a few years. A stable medical history can make you eligible for lower rates later on.
  • Be Patient and Persistent: You may face initial rejections or high quotes. Persistence and a willingness to work through the complexities of the process can yield better results in the end.

By using these strategies and taking a proactive approach, you’ll be better positioned to secure a life insurance policy that meets your needs, despite the challenges posed by a bipolar disorder diagnosis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Life Insurance with Bipolar Disorder

Yes, it’s possible to get life insurance with bipolar disorder. However, expect to undergo a more rigorous underwriting process, and possibly pay higher premiums than someone without a mental health condition.

Premiums are likely to be higher for applicants with bipolar disorder due to the increased perceived risk by insurance companies. The severity and management of your condition, along with other health and lifestyle factors, will determine the extent of the increase.

People with bipolar disorder can generally apply for the same types of life insurance as anyone else, including term life, whole life, and universal life insurance. However, term life insurance is often the most straightforward and cost-effective option.

Yes, full disclosure is essential when applying for life insurance. Failure to disclose can lead to the denial of a claim or cancellation of your policy.

Many life insurance companies will require a medical exam, including a review of your medical history and possibly additional psychiatric evaluations. Some companies offer no-exam policies, but these usually come with higher premiums.

Many employers offer group life insurance policies that do not require a medical exam or questionnaire. This can be a good option for those with bipolar disorder to secure some amount of coverage.

Yes, some insurance providers specialize in high-risk cases and may offer more favorable terms. It’s worth seeking out these providers, especially if you’ve been denied coverage in the past.

A recent diagnosis may make it more challenging to secure life insurance or result in higher premiums. Consistency in treatment and a period of stability can help improve your insurability over time.

Find a solution for what you’re looking for 

Armed with the right information, professional guidance, and a bit of persistence, you can find a policy. At Protect Your Wealth, we work with and compare policies and quotes from the best life insurance companies in Canada to ensure the best solution for you and your needs. We provide expert life insurance solutions, including no medical life insurance, critical illness insurance, term life insurance, and permanent life insurance to build the best package to give you the protection you need. 

Contact Protect Your Wealth or call us at 1-877-654-6119 to talk to an advisor today! We’re proudly based out of Hamilton, and service clients anywhere in Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta including areas such as Kingston, Red Deer, and Kamloops.

Talk to an advisor today.

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