Can I claim on income protection if I have depression?


With research that shows that 1 in 4 of us in the UK will suffer from a mental health condition at some juncture in our lives it’s then hardly surprising to learn that depression affects thousands of people in the UK every year, and thousands more indirectly who help those diagnosed and who suffer with the various forms of this often debilitating condition come to terms and successfully manage it on a regular basis.

Perpetually misunderstood in some quarters, depression is however recognised by society as a serious illness and therefore there’s a growing acceptance if not grasp of what it means to individuals who try to shape and adjust their lives around its occurrence or indeed, recurrence.

Typically episodes can be relatively short-lived (weeks and months) or last a lifetime (coming back at various points in our lives); the upshot in most cases being that depression can leave those affected with a seriously impaired ability to function and go about their normal, everyday tasks, let alone continue to hold down their careers, which can often be put on hold when depression strikes.

Thanks to a greater awareness of depression in general scenarios in which it can manifest itself, increasing sectors of society are better prepared for acknowledging its presentation and working out just how they can accommodate it in individual situations. The insurance industry is one such sector which is widening its goalposts all the time to ensure that people who suffer at the hands of depression are fairly treated and moreover, justly represented when it comes to arranging insurance products which are ideally designed to benefit everyone, irrespective of adverse or complicated personal, professional, physical and emotional conditions.

In light of this more and more income protection insurance providers are extending existing policies to make them far more accessible and user-friendly for those who have experienced depression. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean every insurer is singing from the same hymn sheet in this instance, and there are some who remain cautious from an insurance perspective.

And for those insurers who do offer income protection policies for people suffering (or who have disclosed previous bouts of depression) from depression, you can expect the premium prices to be higher, with an average of 5% above the norm being the figure most likely to be requested.

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That said, if the episode of depression was isolated and happened several years ago, the chances are that it may not even affect the income protection policy that you seek here and now. Also the proposer will have to provide medical certification from their GP detailing the scale and extent of their specific history of depression and prove that they are under the continuing care of a consultant psychiatrist.

Income protection insurance WILL cover policyholders should they fall victim of depression

As you are probably already aware, for those people looking to take out some of the most important and far-reaching dedicated insurance covers – including life, critical illness, travel and of course, income protection – there’s a rudimentary requirement to disclose information about both your current health status and their back-dated medical history, so that the insurance policy provider can ascertain whether or not any aspects of your health would be considered cause for concern; and subsequently compromise the likelihood of you being offered a policy.

Pre-existing health conditions (as they’re colloquially referred to) are nothing new, and have long been used as a barometer of a proposer’s general health and wellbeing going forward. Whilst this simplistic means testing protocol is self-explanatory when it comes to something like a broken leg, instances of mental illness can often be a moot point and one which some insurers can’t see past.

From an income protection insurer’s viewpoint, mental health issues such as depression are keenly observed as amongst the most probable causes of claims on this type of policy, second only to musculoskeletal conditions such as bad backs. Which is perhaps why the industry has been lagging behind society a little in its acceptance of depression; a term which in its loosest form has habitually been a tag afforded some people who were at a low ebb as opposed to being officially diagnosed with a debilitating condition which is a world apart from generally feeling down.

It’s worth noting that under the Disability Discrimination Act that it’s illegal for insurers to turn down a would-be income protection insurance policyholder (or indeed, charge significantly higher premiums) unless they can pinpoint statistically increased risks based on a specific mental health condition. Which is why it’s now common procedure for insurance providers to undertake risk assessments on those looking to arrange income protection plans, on completion of which they can refuse cover/increase premiums or refuse a claim that results from mental illness, on the proviso that the individual in question presents a higher than average risk.

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Historically both pre and post-natal depression are viewed more favourably in as much as they’re widely regarded to be an isolated incident, transient in nature; a generally accepted understanding in the insurance industry which extends to the way stress and anxiety cases are taken into account in terms of life insurance cover. Effectively in these cases ordinary premium rates will apply. By this same token instances of mild depression stand a good chance of being assumed equally as transient, thus resulting in no noticeable hike in income protection insurance premium rates, whereas categorical proof that a proposer has suffered from an enduring history of severe depression (including instances of suicidal thoughts and tendencies), more often than not means premiums being ramped up or worst case scenario, cover refusal per se.

One of the problems for would-be income protection insurance policyholders is though is the definition of what’s considered to be high risk by the insurance provider as there’s no official sliding scale to help determine this. Or ascertain just how serious depression has to be or an exacting passage of time during which someone suffers from it for an application to be rejected out of hand.

When all is said and done though, it’s a relief to know that income protection is the only form of insurance policy that will, as it stands, recompense the policyholder in the event of them being unable to continue with their normal duties of work due to the onset of a mental health condition, such as the diagnosis of depression. While critical illness cover successfully compensates insured parties should they suffer from a heart attack, stroke or cancer, other chronic conditions such as back problems and depression are routinely excluded from pre-agreed policies.

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