Getting Life Insurance with Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder

Depending on the level of severity and effectiveness of control methods, many customers can still qualify for a standard life insurance policy.
Author: Brian Greenberg CEO of True Blue Life Insurance
Last updated April 13, 2021

Obtaining life insurance with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Depending on the level of severity and effectiveness of control methods, many customers can still qualify for a standard life insurance policy.

Worst-case scenario, you may only qualify for a guaranteed issue policy.

Obtaining life insurance with a mental condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may seem like a difficult task, but knowing the obstacles is half the battle. There is hope — and insurance — for people with these types of conditions.

Because schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are two mental health conditions that are frequently misunderstood and misrepresented in our society, people with such diagnoses often feel intimidated by the prospect of applying for insurance. Life insurance, in particular, can be daunting, given the underwriting process and background checks required to get approved.

As with many types of mental illnesses, both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are broad terms that encompass many different experiences. Indeed, many people with such diagnoses lead perfectly normal lives and are not affected by their illness at all. Others may have to deal with the occasional episode or rely on medication to keep the symptoms under control. Clearly, these cases are very different from others in which the best form of care comes from trained professionals in a live-in treatment facility.

Given this variation in experiences, it’s important to know a few things before applying for a life insurance plan. When you can work closely with your underwriter to give a full view of your diagnosis, you’ll have more control over the coverage options available to you.

We want to help that process run as smoothly as possible. Here’s a detailed guide on what you can expect when applying for a life insurance plan.

First, A Few Definitions

Presumably, you don’t need to be told the definition of your own condition. However, it can be helpful to learn more about how your life insurer may categorize your diagnosis. Make note, for instance, whether your symptoms align with or differ from the ones listed below, as it will help you navigate the discussion with your underwriter.

  • Schizophrenia. Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia isn’t a “split” personality or multiple personalities. The word “schizophrenia” means “split mind,” but it refers to a disruption of the usual balance of emotions and thinking. Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, requiring lifelong treatment. In more detail, the most recent source for diagnosis of mental illness, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), characterizes schizophrenia as a condition with one or more possible symptoms. For example, the person may experience hallucinations, delusions, difficulties in thinking or speaking coherently, or other negative behaviors or emotional states. While this typically lasts for a month or longer, proper treatment can also significantly reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms.
  • Bipolar Disorder. With bipolar disorder—sometimes called manic-depressive disorder—mood swings range from the lows of depression to the highs of mania. When someone with bipolar disorder becomes depressed, he or she may feel very sad or hopeless, and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When the mood shifts in the other direction, he or she may feel euphoric and full of energy. These spikes and drops in emotional states can occur a few times a year or several times a day. In some cases, bipolar disorder causes symptoms of depression and mania at the same time. Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, people with this condition can keep their moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling.

Obviously, both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have the potential to bring a significant amount of disruption to a person’s life. Individuals with one of these diagnoses may have difficulty keeping a job, maintaining supportive relationships, or taking care of their physical health. Some people may be at higher risk for suicide or have high-risk coping behaviors. It is partly for these reasons that life insurance companies have a hard time offering coverage plans for these more severe cases.

Getting Life Insurance When You Have Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder

Despite what you might have heard, a fully underwritten life insurance policy for someone who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is not impossible to obtain.

You will have to go through a few steps, though, to make sure the insurer knows everything relevant to your condition. If you haven’t yet received a diagnosis, for instance, you will be subject to a physical exam, complete with blood and urine tests, as well as a prescription history analysis, and a personal background check.

One of the challenges of this step is the insurer’s ability to access your health information. Most hospitals and mental health providers are very careful about releasing your records, and you may have to facilitate communication about your diagnosis.

In addition to releasing your documents, there are a few questions you can expect to be asked during the process, such as:

  • Have you been hospitalized in the last year?
  • How frequent do you experience symptoms?
  • Have the symptoms affected your ability to perform daily tasks?
  • Is there anything in your past that would show up on a criminal background check?
  • Do you face any other physical health challenges?
  • What is your treatment plan like?
  • Are you following the parameters of your treatment?

All of these questions are designed to gather information about what your mental illness means in your life. For some, these questions may reveal that schizophrenia or bipolar disorder as not been much of a driving force. For others, they might elicit a story of recovery in which you’ve made significant gains in improving your overall health and well-being. That said, things may get a bit tricky if the answers to these questions suggest that you haven’t been able to control the symptoms well or your symptoms have created other issues.

It’s extremely important to be honest and clear in this assessment process, because it is pretty standard practice for your answers to be cross-referenced with other documentation. If there are discrepancies in your prescriptions and your verbal answers, for example, you may be at risk for being denied coverage.

ConditionSeverityPolicy OptionsCost
Schizophrenia or Bipolar DisorderHigh: Recent problems or other health concernsGraded death benefit, guaranteed issue with no questions askedHighest
Schizophrenia or Bipolar DisorderMild: No recent problems or health concernsGraded death benefit with some questions askedMid-level
Bipolar DisorderMild to low: No recent problems or other health concerns, mild medications, some psychological treatmentTable rated: universal, whole life, or term lifeLowest

Overall, the review process can typically take anywhere from 1 month to several months, during which time the underwriter will consider all of the aspects of your condition, including severity and management.

Once you’ve been assessed and given a table rating, it’s time to chose your best plan. While this step may be giving you the most anxiety, you might be surprised by the options that are available to you. If you have a very mild case of mental illness, you may be offered a much better coverage plan than you ever thought possible. Even if your case is more severe, don’t worry. There are still plenty of options available to you.

Graded Death Benefit Whole Life Insurance

Graded death benefit whole life insurance is a type of specialty insurance usually offered to people who might have a hard time getting other types of life insurance. Individuals with severe schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, for example, should consider this option.

The policy usually pays out limited death benefits during the first few years, and typically requires premiums that are somewhat higher than standard life insurance policies.

With graded death benefit whole life insurance, there are two ways to go:

  • Health Questions Asked: Though this option is more restrictive, many people opt for this one because of the lower cost. You won’t be asked to have a physical exam, but you will be asked to provide all relevant information about your condition.
  • No Questions Asked, Guaranteed Issue: Guaranteed issue life insurance is typically a last resort for people who can’t qualify for life insurance because of their current or past health problems. The only requirement to receive a guaranteed issue life insurance policy is that you pay your premiums. The insuring company usually asks your age, but not any medical questions. If you’re between the ages of 45 and 85, guaranteed issue insurance can provide up to $20,000 in death benefits, with an affordable premium that never increases. The policy is available without having to take a physical exam or answer any health questions.

Getting Life Insurance with Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder

If you have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, you do have an opportunity to purchase life insurance, even if it seems like a complex process. Contact True Blue Life Insurance at 1-866-816-2100 to have a licensed Insurance Professional assist you with your insurance needs. We will ask you a series of questions and provide the legwork in detailing what options are available to you.

Ready To Talk To Someone?

Every conversation we have with our customers is 100% confidential. At True Blue, our agents do not have quotas. Because of this, our focus is solely on doing what is best for our customers and ensuring the highest-quality service. Have questions about schizophrenia and bipolar quotes, just fill in the below form and one of our agents will contact you shortly.

Get the most accurate rates in 2 minutes or less

Making a financial decision doesn’t have to be stressful.
See what you qualify for by answering some health questions.

30 replies
  1. clyde leach
    clyde leach says:

    my wife has bipolar, depression, and now that weed is legal she smokes everyday to help along with the meds her doctor gave. its hard to find life insurance to cover her.

    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      There are several companies that will approve your wife for insurance. The only issue is getting around smoker rates. There are companies that approve people with non-smoker status if they smoke just a couple of times a week. And edibles are treated differently. The best thing to do is a quick quote. We take down your wife’s medical history and shop it to insurance companies to get the rates, before officially applying.

  2. Cameron
    Cameron says:

    I already have a 250K life insurance. schizophrenic 20 yrs -history take drugs but now only haldol
    Can I upgrade to 500K? im on SSD so i can pay ..hospitalized back in 2017? 2016? 2x

    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      I will have an agent contact you by email. I suggest we apply for another 250k policy. When you get approved we can up the amount to its maximum if you like. The important thing is to get approved.
      If our agent thinks it best, we can also do a quick quote and get feedback from several insurance companies before applying.

  3. felix lina
    felix lina says:

    I am not sure of the cause of COPD emphysema in my case. I smoked pack a day for 12 or 13 years, but quit 40 years ago. I have been an outdoor person all my adult life. Coughing started last summer producing thick mucus, greenish tint to clear. I tried prednisone and antibiotics, but no change. X-rays are negative, heart lungs and blood and serum chemistries all are normal. I have lung calcification from childhood bout with histoplasmosis. I am 75 years old and retired.My current doctor directed me to which I purchase the COPD herbal remedies from them ,they are located in Johannesburg, the herbal treatment has effectively reduce all my symptoms totally, am waiting to complete the 15 weeks usage because they guaranteed me total cure.

  4. Glenda
    Glenda says:

    Hi Brian,

    I tried to reply to your response to my post about FGLI but the site wouldn’t allow me to reply but I just wanted to thank you very much for providing me with information that may help me be able to get FGLI. It was very thoughtful of you. Have a wonderful day Brian!

    Glenda Skinner

  5. Carol
    Carol says:

    My son has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia. He is 40 years old and getting life insurance for him has been extremely difficult. He is stable and and has been living on his own independently for approximately 25 years. he has worked before but he receives social security benefits monthly. His symptons are manageable and controlled by taking three daily medication on his own. His last hospitalization was in 2017 for 2 days. However, as of this date (4/19) he is stable and is not confined to a hospital or elsewhere due to injury or sickness. He is a smoker. But he is home managed and able to perform activities on his own. But trying to get a policy has been hard. A $10k policy would be just fine. Can he get a life insurance policy? He’s availaible to speak with a Represenative/Agent. Can you please advise. Thank you..

    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      He is eligible for several types of policies. Group term insurance. Accidental life insurance. Guaranteed acceptance. Possibly a graded benefit whole life policy. If all you need is a 10k policy then we can absolutely help. I’ll have one of our agents contact you to set up a time to speak with your son. We call from a 480 area code number.

  6. Glenda Skinner
    Glenda Skinner says:

    I work for the Veteran’s Health Administration. I have worked for them for about 20 years now with an excellent work history. I have had no in patient stays for anything in over a decade and I am fully functional on Latuda for my bipolar and depression. I also take antianxiety medication as needed which I haven’t taken in more than two years. My health is very good overall. Can I be approved for FEGLI through my employer under METLIFE? Thanking you in advance.

    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi Glenda!

      If this is a group life insurance, then your health history is less of an issue than an individual policy because of the way group policies are underwritten. I don’t see any reason why there would be any issues.

      • Glenda Skinner
        Glenda Skinner says:

        Thank you for your reply Luke. I did everything the insurance underwriter asked even had my MH doctor write a statement for me and was denied life insurance. At this point I will have my doctor write additional information to them to see if it helps. My bipolar disorder is extremely mild and very much under control on the lowest dose of medication possible. I have had no episodes since treatment and have lived a very productive life and aside from outpatient vists to the psychiatrist I have not missed any work nor been hospitalized for this ever. In the event that I am still disapproved is there any other alternative that won’t be too costly for me? Thanking you in advance.

        Glenda Skinner

    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi Adam!

      Premiums can vary based on a few different variables like hospitalizations, medications, and the severity of the issue as a whole. Working with independent agents can help drive these costs down because they will know which companies have the best underwriting guidelines for a specific condition and locate some of the best prices available in the market.

  7. Elizabeth Dowling
    Elizabeth Dowling says:

    I am 48 years old and have bipolar disorder.
    I am on four medications.
    I have over a ten year work history as a nurse practitioner and make over $100k
    Otherwise I am in excellent health and exercise vigorously as well as being a non smoker since 2005.
    Can I get life insurance?

    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi Elizabeth!

      The biggest thing they are going to look at is your overall medical history (records, Rx, etc…) and also how controlled your condition is. With life insurance, it is always about risk and some companies are willing to take on more risk and others may not.

      In this situation, it would probably be best to have one of our agents do some shopping for you. They know which companies are best based on different variables and can get clarification from underwriters before putting in an application. There is a contact form on this page that goes to our agents, so I would recommend you fill it out the best that you can and begin the shopping process. Otherwise, give us a call at (866) 816-2100 and we can start the process over the phone.


  8. ac
    ac says:

    i was mis diagnosed and treated with geodon for a couple years between age 10 and 13 dont have exact time frame othere then that im a diabetic with no isulin needed and adhd im 30 work full time and have for almost 10 years
    ive been repeatedly denied anything but coverage under
    20,000 becuase of the bipolar thing sigh ive tried few companies im also looking to pay under 50 a month for over 30000

    • Luke Kinton
      Luke Kinton says:

      Hi AC!

      In this case, I would recommend you submit your information in the form on this page and talk with one of our agents. We work directly with underwriters on many cases and we can shop around to find you the best policy, given the information you provide them. If you would rather call and give the information directly over the phone, you can do so by giving us a call at (866) 816-2100.

      Don’t hesitate to reach out if there are any questions or concerns you would like to discuss.


      Luke Kinton

  9. Tammy
    Tammy says:

    I am bipolar diagnosis at age 25.Now Iam currently age 47 and really would like to apply for life insurance.I am very stable, no recent hospitalizations.. Managed with minimal medication. Basically very low care And also a student with full capabilities to care for myself and my needs.What coverage would be most beneficial for me and what are the reporting or cost for this

    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      If you take just one or two medications and have had no hospitalizations in the past 4 years, you will most likely qualify for table 2 – 4. Table 2 is typically 25% more than the standard rate class in price. Table 3 is typically 50% more than the Standard rate price, and Table 4 is typically 75% more than the Standard/Regular rate class.
      For those on disability and on just one or two medications and no hospitalizations in the last 4 years, you will most likely qualify for table 4-6.
      From what you describe in your comment, my estimation would be table 2-4.
      SBLI would be a good choice, and so would American National.
      Give us a call or schedule an appointment with one of our agents and we can shop this for you.

  10. Vanessa Thompson
    Vanessa Thompson says:

    I have had bipolar since I was 17 I’m fully functional have worked and now I am on disability home managed with minimal medication I’m looking for a term life plan of about 20 – 25000 but no one seems to want to accept me because I have bipolar I’d like to know if you have any recommendations or referrals

    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      We have a few options for you I think you may like. Currently I think a term policy from 5 Star Life Insurance may be a very good option for you. They have limited health questions:
      Has any Applicant been diagnosed or treated by a member of the medical profession for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), or AIDS-Related Complex (ARC)?

      Has any Applicant ever applied for and been rejected for life insurance?

      Has any Applicant been hospitalized in the past 90 days?

      In the past 5 years, has any Applicant been hospitalized for, been diagnosed or treated by a member of the medical profession or taken prescription medication for: Angina, heart attack, stroke, heart bypass surgery, angioplasty, coronary artery stenting, or coronary artery disease?

      In the past 5 years, has any Applicant been hospitalized for, been diagnosed or treated by a member of the medical profession or taken prescription medication for: Any form of cancer to include leukemia or Hodgkins Disease (excluding non-invasive, non-melanoma skin cancer)?

      In the past 5 years, has any Applicant been hospitalized for, been diagnosed or treated by a member of the medical profession or taken prescription medication for: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, or any other chronic respiratory disorder, excluding asthma? D. Alcoholism or drug or alcohol abuse, cirrhosis, hepatitis, or any other disease of the liver?

      You are able to work and to perform the normal activities of a person of like age and gender; and you are not confined in a hospital, at home or elsewhere due to injury or sickness on the date you signed this application.

      If any questions to the above are yes then this policy will not work.
      We can always get you into several other permanent policies.

      • Alicia Rivers
        Alicia Rivers says:

        My son is 35 years old and is diagnosed with schizophrenia, I would like to get him Life insurance, he does have a severe case of schizophrenia, but I still hope that he can get insurance, can you give me some names of insurances to call,I thank you very much. Alicia Rios

  11. sal
    sal says:

    I’m diagnosed with schizoeffective/bipolar disorder (the diagnosis is unclear and they keep jumping between the two, either/or type, and I’m trying to claim both since they have both on file, right? I could even argue that they have no clue based on the various differing opinions between like 12 different doctors where one says bipolar the other says schizoeffective) through VA recently and am still working to get it service connected (mid-paperwork-process). Just like the poster above, my condition is quite manageable. As a 30 y.o. male how much would a monthly $300k policy cost me?

    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      I recommend first obtaining 150k in the one instant issue product we sell because if you apply and get declined by another company, you are not able to qualify for the instant issue product. You can run a quote here
      This way you will have coverage for your family. I then suggest applying with a fully underwritten policy (either Prudential, AIG, or Protective Life), where they do a medical exam and pull your doctors records. If the disorder is well controlled you have a good chance of getting approved at a good rate since you are young.

  12. Charles Colleen
    Charles Colleen says:

    I’ve had bipolar disorder since 2010. I’m disabled on social security. My symptoms are controlled with the VA. Can I get a $100,000 life insurance policy for a reasonable rate?

    • Brian Greenberg
      Brian Greenberg says:

      You would fall into a Table 4 – Table 12 most likely. This means the cost will be higher due to your history. We would need to know more detailed information regarding your situation to get a more accurate rate quote for you. We have insured people with similar situations and we would contact some underwriters to find out the best company to apply with.
      The insurance company will need to request your medical records from your primary physician, though at this coverage amount of $100,000, a medical exam is not necessary for some companies.
      Give us a call so we can get you an accurate quote, and then you can make the decision of whether to apply or not.


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