Living with post-traumatic stress disorder ( PTSD) can be difficult for individuals and their families. PTSD sufferers often have concerns about the future, including whether or not they will qualify for life insurance.
It is common to assume your life insurance application would be denied based on a PTSD diagnosis. Life insurance after a diagnosis of PTSD is possible, though.
Knowing which life insurance companies consider PTSD to be a high risk condition is important. This article can help prepare you for a higher rate of success when applying for life insurance.
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What Is PTSD?
Approximately 44.7 million Americans have or are struggling with PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is most often associated with veterans or active military personnel, but it can affect anyone who has been involved in a scary or stressful event.
These events include, but are not limited to:
- Combat experience
- Terrorist attacks
- Abuse or assault
- Traumatic accidents
- Natural disasters
- Sudden or major loss
Research shows fear and stress trigger a range of reactions and emotions in the body, commonly known as “fight-or-flight” responses.
Many people recover quickly from the initial symptoms they experience, but some people continue to have symptoms for months or years—often resulting in a PTSD diagnosis.
In order for a doctor to diagnose you with PTSD, they will ask very detailed questions about the event or situation you have experienced and want detailed information about the symptoms you are having.
Everyone experiences PTSD differently, but common symptoms include:
- Flashbacks of the trauma/event, which may trigger physical symptoms like sweating, increased heart rate, a rush of adrenaline
- Nightmares or vivid dreams
- Negative or frightening thoughts and emotions
These symptoms can be triggered by small, commonplace things like a word, song, object, or situation; anything which reminds the person of the traumatic event.
These easy triggers make it difficult for some PTSD patients to maintain a typical lifestyle, like holding a job and being a contributing member of a family. It is often hard for PTSD sufferers to even be around other people.
People with PTSD are prone to developing anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, alcohol and drug dependence, and suicidal tendencies.
Each of those conditions are considered high risk to a life insurance company, so an underwriter will want to rule out any of those behaviors or disorders in order to provide you with coverage.
PTSD can be treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
For some people, it takes months or years to recover from PTSD symptoms, and they may need medication or counseling to maintain long-term control over the condition.
The sooner you seek help for your PTSD, the sooner you can begin to lead a normal life again—and qualify for life insurance.
What Is the Application Process Like?
Some people find it scary and embarrassing to disclose their PTSD diagnosis on a life insurance application, but it is essential to be honest about your condition when you apply.
You will be required to undergo a medical exam, and possibly a psychological examination, which will uncover any medications or conditions you have.
Questions you can expect the life insurance underwriter to ask include:
- When were you diagnosed?
- How severe is your condition?
- Have you been hospitalized for PTSD?
- Do you take medications and what are they?
- Have you attempted suicide?
- Do you see your doctor, psychologist, or counselor regularly?
An underwriter is looking for proof your condition is under control and you are under the care of a medical professional. The more detailed your medical history and doctor’s records, the better your chances for receiving a good health class rating.
The underwriter will also want to assess your lifestyle, including your employment history since the traumatic event, your level of physical activity, and whether or not you use alcohol or tobacco.
Being employed, social, active, and “clean” of alcohol and drugs will get you the best health class rating.
What Kind of Rating Can You Expect?
If you have been diagnosed with mild PTSD, are controlling your condition with medication or counseling, and you have not been hospitalized recently, you can expect to receive a Standard health class rating.
This rating also assumes you are in generally good health overall and you don’t smoke.
If you have been hospitalized for your PTSD recently (within 12-24 months), or you require substantial medication to control your condition, you can expect a Mild Sub-Standard or Sub-Standard health class rating.
You’ll be considered an impaired risk to a life insurance company, but if you continue to keep your condition under control and you are not hospitalized again, your rating could be adjusted and your premiums reduced.
Individuals who experience severe PTSD symptoms and frequent hospitalizations may have difficulty being approved for life insurance by the majority of companies. If you fall into this category, you should work with an experienced life insurance agent before applying to any one company.
We can help you determine your best possible outcomes and help you apply to the right companies first.