Can ADHD sufferers get life insurance?
The perception that ADHD usually conjures up is the picture of a frazzled person who is fidgety and has a lack of concentration. It is a condition that is often misunderstood, and even some make jokes. Everyone becomes anxious at some point. Everyone forgets something now and then. Just because a person becomes anxious or forgets something does not mean they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. It is important that life insurance companies understand this too. Incorrect labeling of mental health conditions by life insurance companies due to company protocol or misinterpretation of medical records can cause applicants to be charged more for life insurance coverage. Medical records are usually brief. If a doctor states that a patient appeared to be giddy, what does that mean? Does the patient have anxiety, depression, ADHD or does it mean something else? The person reviewing the information for a life insurance company is called an underwriter. How is an underwriter to interpret that statement? My doctor wrote that I was giddy in my file, and I have none of those conditions. However, an underwriter may take that to mean that I have a mood disorder.
When applying for life insurance, a history of ADHD can be interpreted in several ways. That is why it is important that you have an experienced advocate. In most instances an experienced life insurance agent is your best advocate. When the medical conditions are complicated, and the life insurance amounts are large, a life insurance medicine doctor is helpful in clarifying conditions and communicating risk levels to the life insurance company. A life insurance agent should be able to help identify if a physician consultant would benefit your life insurance application.
How to find the right company.
Mislabeling mental health conditions can occur because some life insurance companies lump mental health disorders like ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety all together and classify them as mood disorders. Insurers that follow this practice will often charge those they classify with mood disorders higher rates or decline to offer them coverage. However, not all life insurance companies follow this strategy. Some life insurers methodically categorize different mental health disorders and charge people rates based on that categorization. Most of the time, these insurers offer life insurance to those with mild to moderate mental health disorders at lower rates than companies that generalize many mental health conditions together.
Insurers that definitively categorize mental health disorders are more likely to consider treatment outcomes rather than protocol when it comes to determining the cost of life insurance. A typical example is an adult with ADHD that has received treatment and medication since childhood. Even though they are in excellent health, they may be charged higher rates because they are treating their ADHD with a single or multiple drugs. Some insurance companies have strict protocols for offering coverage. Their rating methods may call for decreasing their rating by one level for any mental health related medication and declining a person for life insurance if they take two medications. The key to giving yourself the best chance of being offered the lowest cost life insurance coverage is to avoid life insurance companies that generalize mental health conditions. Seek those insurers that are more specific about how they offer coverage to those with ADHD and other mental health disorders. To find the best life insurance at the most competitive rates it is important for those with ADHD to work with a life insurance agent that has an understanding of which life insurance companies categorize mental health conditions rather than generalize.
How to get the best rates.
Once you have found a life insurance provider that will consider mental health disorders on a categorical basis the next step to getting the best rates is presenting your application. When someone applies to a life insurance company for coverage, the company considers medical history, lifestyle, and habits to determine if that person is an acceptable risk. How the facts surrounding a person’s ADHD are presented to the life insurance company can significantly affect the life insurance policy that is offered. A complete description of a person’s ADHD plus a chronological representation of how the condition has been treated can help in getting a lower cost. Communicating how you have been managing your ADHD will help show that your condition is under control, and it does not inhibit your day-to-day life.
It may be helpful to take a moment and give a basic overview of how ADHD is viewed. The aspect of ADHD that is commonly overlooked is a person with ADHD has different biological brain functions. The accompanying image shows the difference between a person with ADHD and without. The condition can be treated with therapy, medication or both. This is a condition that does not go away over a person’s lifetime, so presenting how it is managed will help show that it does not make you a higher life insurance risk. The image on the left shows “white, red, and orange [which] indicate areas of relatively high glucose metabolism, whereas [on the right] blue, green, and purple indicate areas of lower glucose metabolism” (NEJM, 1990). Glucose was given to the people tested immediately following skill test. The person on the left shows a higher degree of brain chemical activity immediately following sessions where they were asked to complete a task that was to challenge their thinking skills.
From a life insurance company’s perspective, they are not as concerned about why there are biological differences in brain function as they are concerned about the effect it has on a person’s life expectancy. Non-controlled ADHD usually accompanies other life risk conditions or activities. Individuals with non-controlled ADHD are more liable to have depression, alcoholism and drug abuse (Coltar, 2003). Controlled ADHD is a non-life event. In the best of controlled situations and the absence of other complications, some life insurance companies will offer their lowest rates.
How to apply.
If you know you have ADHD; there are two ways you can apply for life insurance. The process begins with a discussion of your situation with an experienced life insurance agent. Ask what their experience has been with life insurance companies that best work with applicants that have ADHD. Then go with their recommendation of a life insurance company. If your medical situation is not too complicated, this may be the best approach. A critical service that your life insurance agent should include as part of submitting your life insurance application is a cover letter to the underwriter. The cover letter details and clarifies any information that may be pertinent to your application. If your medical situation appears to be complicated, you may have a better chance of getting the best policy at the lowest cost by submitting an informal inquiry.
An informal inquiry is the best way to avoid being declined for life insurance coverage. An informal inquiry is where we take all of your health history information and anonymously submit that to several life insurance companies. Without disclosing who you are the life insurance companies will look at your circumstance and tell us if they are willing to consider a person with your health history. Also, they will say what they expect the cost will be. You can take advantage of the best offer that is made. This process gets you the best life insurance policy at the best possible price without having to bounce between life insurance companies. It is also the best way to avoid a denial for ADHD. Could you still be denied? Yes. This is not a foolproof process. However, if we can completely answer all of the questions up front and there are no unexpected circumstances, it is your best chance. It is the best process because you are getting the benefit of shopping many different life insurance companies at the same time.
For most people the following step will not apply. For those special cases where a life insurance applicant has a complicated medical history, and they are applying for large amounts of life insurance, it is prudent to engage the services of a life insurance medicine doctor to review the medical history and clarify any potential problems. Consider this example. I am applying for a ten-million-dollar life insurance policy, and the consultant perceives that I could be rated as having anxiety because the doctor stated that I was giddy. The consultant would then communicate with my doctor and ask him to add a note to my file clarifying his statement and diagnosis. The clarification of the diagnosis could make a significant difference in the cost of a life insurance policy.
No matter what size of life insurance policy you are considering, if you have health concerns, you will need guidance in the application process. I have been helping customers find life insurance coverage to protect their families for twenty-eight years. I’d be honored to begin helping you. The best way to start is by completing the quote request form on our website, or you can call, email or text too.
Usually I recommend term life insurance and when you request a quote you will get the cost from several highly rated term life insurance companies. After reviewing your information, I can guide you toward the option that will give you the best opportunity to obtain low cost term life insurance.
Cotlar, M. J. (2003). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd)— life insurance implications. Journal of Insurance Medicine, 51-56. Retrieved from https://www.aaimedicine.org/journal-of-insurance-medicine/jim/2003/035-01-0051.pdf
New England Journal of Medicine. (1990, November 15). Cerebral glucose metabolism processing [CT Scan]. Retrieved from http://www.nejm.org/action/showImage?doi=10.1056%2FNEJM199011153232001&iid=f004