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Life Insurance, Suicide Attempt, Frequently Asked Questions

Life insurance serves as a crucial financial safety net, providing peace of mind to individuals and their loved ones. However, when it comes to suicide, a sensitive and complex topic, the landscape of life insurance can become more intricate. After all,  suicide attempts will likely raise concerns for insurance companies due to the potential risk they present.

In this article, we will delve into the world of life insurance with suicide attempts, exploring the standard exclusions that exist, the options available to individuals with a history of suicide attempts, and the evolving perspectives surrounding mental health and suicide within the insurance industry.

By shedding light on this important issue, we aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of life insurance options for those who have experienced suicide attempts and emphasize the significance of seeking support and professional guidance throughout the process.

Understanding the Prevalence of Suicide and Suicidal Ideation:

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2022, there were an estimated 45,979 suicides in the United States, which is a rate of 14.0 per 100,000 people, and sadly the suicide rate has been increasing in the United States for the past several decades.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an estimated 1.4 million adults in the United States made a suicide attempt in 2022. This translates to approximately 1 in 25 adults.

The number of suicide attempts is much higher than the number of suicides. This is because many people who attempt suicide do not die. In fact, only about 1 in 20 suicide attempts are fatal.

There are many risk factors for suicide attempts, including mental health conditions, substance abuse, and traumatic experiences. If you are experiencing any of these risk factors, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, please reach out for help. There are many resources available, including:

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • The Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
  • The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

You are not alone. There is help available.

Impact on One’s Life Insurance Application

The impact of a suicide attempt on a life insurance application can vary depending on the number of attempts and the specific circumstances. In general, insurance companies assess the risk associated with suicide attempts to determine eligibility and coverage options.

For individuals with a single suicide attempt, some insurance companies may consider providing coverage after a waiting period, typically one year. During this time, the applicant’s mental health and overall well-being are evaluated. If they demonstrate stability and show improvement, they may be eligible for coverage at a substandard rate, which means higher premiums compared to standard rates. The substandard rate reflects the increased risk perceived by the insurance company.

However, for individuals with multiple suicide attempts, obtaining traditional life insurance coverage can be challenging. Insurance companies typically consider multiple attempts as a higher risk factor and may deny coverage altogether. This denial is primarily due to the increased likelihood of future attempts and the potential financial burden it places on the insurance company.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that each insurance company has its own underwriting guidelines, and some may be more lenient than others when considering applicants with a history of suicide attempts. Additionally, specialized life insurance options, such as guaranteed issue or accidental death policies, may provide coverage to individuals regardless of their suicide attempt history, although these policies often come with certain limitations and higher premiums.

Factors that will be considered

When evaluating a life insurance application from an individual with a history of suicide attempts, insurance companies typically consider several factors to assess the associated risk. These factors can vary among insurance providers but generally include:

  1. Time since the last suicide attempt: The length of time that has passed since the most recent suicide attempt is a significant consideration. A longer period without any attempts demonstrates stability and may improve the chances of obtaining coverage.
  2. Mental health treatment and records: Insurance companies often review an applicant’s mental health treatment history, including therapy sessions, medications prescribed, and any hospitalizations related to mental health. These records provide insights into the individual’s ongoing management of their mental health and recovery.
  3. Current mental health status: The present mental health status of the applicant is crucial. Insurance companies may request information about the individual’s current mental health provider, their treatment plan, and their overall stability. Demonstrating a stable and well-managed mental health condition can increase the likelihood of obtaining coverage.
  4. Follow-up care and compliance: Consistency in following the recommended treatment and medication plan is important. Insurance companies may assess an applicant’s level of compliance with mental health care recommendations as it reflects their commitment to maintaining their mental well-being.
  5. Underlying mental health conditions: Insurance companies will consider any underlying mental health conditions that contribute to the risk of suicide attempts. The severity, stability, and manageability of these conditions will be evaluated to determine the associated risk.
  6. Lifestyle factors: Some insurance providers may take into account an individual’s lifestyle factors, such as drug or alcohol abuse history, as these can impact mental health stability and increase the risk of suicidal ideation.
  7. Overall health and medical history: Insurance companies consider an applicant’s overall health and medical history, including any physical health conditions. This evaluation helps assess the individual’s overall mortality risk and any potential interactions between physical and mental health conditions.

It’s important to note that the specific weight placed on each factor can differ among insurance companies. Consulting with an insurance broker or financial advisor experienced in high-risk cases can provide valuable guidance on which insurance providers may be more accommodating based on an individual’s unique circumstances.

Tips to Improve One’s Chances

While obtaining life insurance coverage with a history of suicide attempts can be challenging, there are steps individuals can take to improve their chances. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Seek ongoing mental health treatment: Regularly engaging in mental health treatment and following the recommended treatment plan demonstrates a commitment to managing one’s mental health. Consistency in therapy sessions, adherence to prescribed medications, and active participation in support groups or counseling can strengthen the case for insurance approval.
  2. Maintain stability and demonstrate progress: It’s crucial to work towards achieving stability and progress in mental health recovery. Showing improvement over time, with no recent suicide attempts or hospitalizations, can help alleviate concerns about future risk. Building a strong support network and engaging in self-care practices can contribute to overall well-being.
  3. Build a strong medical and mental health record: Maintaining detailed medical and mental health records is essential. This includes keeping a comprehensive record of treatment, hospitalizations, therapy sessions, and medications. Having a documented history of consistent and proactive mental health management can provide evidence of stability and responsible self-care.
  4. Follow professional advice and treatment recommendations: Adhering to the guidance of mental health professionals and following their treatment recommendations is crucial. Insurance companies appreciate applicants who demonstrate a proactive approach to their mental health, such as attending therapy sessions, taking prescribed medications as directed, and implementing recommended coping strategies.
  5. Be transparent and honest on the application: When completing the life insurance application, it’s important to be open and honest about the history of suicide attempts. Failing to disclose this information can lead to coverage denial or policy cancellation in the future. Instead, provide all requested details and provide additional context when necessary to help the insurance company understand the circumstances and progress made since the attempts.
  6. Work with an experienced insurance broker or advisor: Consulting with an insurance broker or financial advisor who specializes in high-risk cases can be immensely helpful. These professionals have knowledge of insurance providers that may be more accommodating and can guide you through the application process, ensuring all necessary information is presented effectively.
  7. Consider specialized life insurance options: Investigate specialized life insurance policies designed for individuals with a history of mental health challenges. Guaranteed issue life insurance and accidental death policies are options worth exploring, as they may have less stringent underwriting requirements compared to traditional policies. However, be aware that these policies often come with higher premiums and limitations on coverage amounts.

Remember that the availability and options for life insurance coverage with a suicide attempt history may vary among insurance companies. Patience and persistence are key throughout the process, and seeking professional guidance can significantly increase the chances of finding suitable coverage.

Closing thoughts…

While obtaining life insurance coverage with a history of suicide attempts may present challenges, it’s important to remember that options are available. By taking proactive steps to prioritize mental health, maintain stability, and seek professional guidance, individuals can improve their chances of qualifying for coverage.

Remember, recovery is a journey, and demonstrating progress and a commitment to self-care can make a significant difference. By working closely with experienced insurance brokers or advisors and exploring specialized life insurance options, individuals can find policies that meet their needs.

Everyone deserves financial security and peace of mind, regardless of past struggles. Let us continue to advocate for fair treatment, understanding, and destigmatization of mental health challenges within the realm of life insurance. Remember, support is available, and no one needs to face this journey alone.