Millions of men and women all over the world suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), a mental disorder characterised by a continuous reoccurrence of harmful thoughts, and/or a powerful urge to perform certain seemingly inconsequential actions and rituals. Having OCD is enough of a struggle, but trying to get life insurance while suffering from this disorder makes it even more of a hassle.
Many life insurance companies won’t even accept people with OCD, and the ones that do are less likely to give them a preferred rating. However, if you have OCD, there are a number of ways you can still get great coverage at an affordable rate. Here is a quick guide to getting life insurance with OCD.
What is Obssesive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
If you’re one of the many people who have this mental illness, you probably don’t need to be given information about what OCD is; however, it’s worth laying out a few of the basics.
Symptoms of OCD include one or many obsessive thoughts or compulsive habits. Obsessive thoughts may consist of worrying that they may harm loved ones, worrying about their loved ones getting hurt, feeling that certain colors are intrinsically harmful, or needing some objects to be placed in a specific order.
While compulsive habits include quadruple checking that doors are locked, washing hands repeatedly, or touching a necklace or something an exact number of times, try not to confuse OCD with delusions. Most people with OCD know intellectually that if an object isn’t facing a particular direction their family members won’t be harmed.
However, OCD is not a product of poor reasoning, it’s a neurological condition that overrides their conscious minds, making them feel powerless to resist their urges or ignore these thoughts.
Generally speaking, the dangers of OCD aren’t physical. Usually the urges that people with OCD have are typically positive: cleaning, organizing, protecting one’s home, etc. Urges which are not harmful in themselves, but harmful when people experience severe distress if their hands aren’t washed the right number of times.
The dangers of OCD are of the mental and emotional sort. Also, the trials of OCD often leads to other mental issues such as depression and anxiety. People with OCD can also find it difficult to maintain relationships, with isolation and loneliness as other possibilities.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for OCD. However, with medicine, therapy and self-acceptance, even severe OCD can be managed and patients can live healthy and fulfilling lives.
How Will Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Affect Your Life Insurance Premiums?
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of OCD, it’s time to look into how an OCD diagnosis can affect your eligibility for life insurance, and the rates you’ll receive.
Why Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Is So Important with Life Insurance Companies
One thing to keep in mind moving forward is why life insurance companies need to know about your OCD to begin with. After all, OCD is a mental illness—as difficult as it is to live with, it has very little bearing on your physical health.
However, as mentioned above, because people with an OCD diagnosis are much more prone to depression and anxiety, the sad fact of the matter is that suicide rates are much higher for people suffering from this condition.There’s no way around the fact that life insurance companies see customers with OCD as liabilities.
However, as long as you answer all of the questions from your life insurance agent, and are taking steps to live a healthy and stable life, there’s a great chance you’ll be able to receive affordable coverage.
What Your Life Insurance Agent Will Need to Know
When you’re talking with your life insurance agent, here are some questions about your OCD that you’re likely to be asked.
How much time has passed since you’ve first been diagnosed?
One of the first questions your life insurance agent will ask is “How long ago were you officially diagnosed with OCD?” If you’ve experienced symptoms of OCD later in life, it may mean that it hasn’t had enough time to cause lasting problems to your sense of identity and self-esteem.
However, it also means that you and your psychiatrist have not yet determined the full extent of its severity. Most people with OCD exhibit symptoms before their 20th birthday which means they usually have an adequate understanding of their condition from an early age. However, if your life is already well underway when you begin experiencing symptoms, it could seriously disrupt your plans for the future.
How bad is your condition?
This is an important question, and the one that will probably have the highest impact on your eligibility for life insurance. OCD can not only take many different forms, including obsessive thoughts, recurring ideas, paranoia, compulsive habits and ritualistic urges, but there are also many different degrees of this condition, from mild to moderate to severe.
Obviously, with a diagnosis of severe or chronic OCD, it’s going to be much more difficult to find cheap coverage. People with mild or moderate OCD still suffer from their illness. But, since their ability to lead healthier lives is greater, they’re more likely to receive, if not preferred, than at least standard rates.
What medications (if any) are you taking for your condition?
Medication is an excellent way of managing symptoms of OCD. Common types of medication include SSRIs and some variations on standard antidepressants. The right medication has done wonders for people suffering from OCD, as well as all sorts of mental illnesses.
However, many of these medications are known to have side effects. This includes GI bleeding, decreased bone density, heart problems, and even suicidal ideation. Your life insurance agent will need to know exactly:
- What meditation you’re on
- How much you’re taking
- How long you’ve been on it
- Whether or not you’re experience any side effects
- Has there been any improvement in your condition
If you’ve had electroshock therapy or any other surgeries.
This is usually a last resort, but many people suffering from OCD may undergo electroconvulsive therapy. Although popular films and novels have portrayed electroconvulsive therapy as radical and dangerous, it’s now classified as a safe (albeit extreme) procedure with noticeable benefits.
Other procedures include deep-brain stimulation and vagus nerve stimulation which have been known to show improvements in people with OCD. However, since the literature on ECT contains many grey areas, it’s difficult to predict what effect it will have on your life insurance premiums.
Since every life insurance company views ECT differently, if you’ve had electroconvulsive therapy or other procedures for your OCD, try to find a company with a history of keeping an open mind.
Whether or not you’re seeing a psychiatrist, and if so, how often?
Seeing a psychiatrist or therapist is beneficial to all kinds of people. Whether they’re suffering from a mental illness or not, and it is especially helpful to people suffering from OCD. Psychiatry is necessary to help people understand the full extent of their condition. It’s great for giving them the tools to cope with it.
Life insurance companies want to make sure you’re doing everything to deal with your situation. Seeing a psychiatrist/therapist may improve your rates.
If you’ve had suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
As previously stated, the main reason why life insurance companies are so wary about taking on clients with OCD is that OCD patients have a higher risk of suicide. These companies want to make as few payouts as possible. The risk of suicide is a big factor in their rating systems.
Unfortunately, suicidal ideations (fantasies of commiting suicide) will not bode well for your premiums, and suicide attempt may get you denied coverage immediately. Since one of the symptoms of OCD may consist of a preoccupation with the thought of doing dangerous or erratic actions, it can be difficult to determine. Talk with your psychiatrist about this to get the best insight before applying for life insurance.
If you’ve required hospitalization for your OCD.
Finally, your life insurance agent will need to know if you’ve ever been hospitalized due to your condition. Many people with OCD may find that they’re losing control of their lives and need the assistance of a mental health facility. If you have been hospitalized, explain how long ago it was, why exactly you were hospitalized and how long you were there.
What Can You Do To Get Better Rates for Life Insurance with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Now, let’s go over some ways you can get the best life insurance premiums while suffering from OCD.
Manage OCD as Well as Possible
It’s in you and your budget’s best interest to handle your OCD as best you can. It’s not going to be easy, but there are tools available to help.
- Therapy: As stated, therapy is one of the best ways to deal with your OCD. Many people speak with a therapist. From those suffering from severe mental disorders, to people who simply need some assistance trekking through this difficult life.
- Medication: Another great way to improve your mental health. Taking multiple types of pills may make life insurance companies wary, considering the possibilities of side effects. Taking a prescribed medication can significantly soften your OCD symptoms. It also shows life insurance companies that you’re being proactive about your condition.
Take Care of Yourself Otherwise
Your OCD is obviously not the only defining aspect about you. Handling mental illness means taking care of yourself as a full and multidimensional individual.
- Develop your career: One of the many things that can give you satisfaction in life is your career. Try to find a line of work that fulfills you without overburdening you.
- Find a community: Communities give people a great support structure. Self-reliance is critical but nobody can do it alone. Try and find a group of people you trust and feel comfortable with.
- Diet and exercise: Lastly, your physical health is incredibly important as well. Diet and exercise will help you feel better about yourself, improve your well-being and even give you an edge over your mental illness as well.
Work With Your Agent When Applying for Life Insurance with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Remember, your agent is not out to get you. Your agent wants to get you the best rates possible. But, they can only help you if you give them all of the necessary information about your condition.
Disclose as much about your OCD as you can to your agent. This lets them do their work to find the most favorable companies. Also, remember to keep them up-to-date on your health. If your condition improves, you could be eligible for reduced rates.
Try Alternative Policies
Unfortunately, even if you do everything in your power to manage your condition, many people with OCD are denied outright. There’s a good chance that if you have OCD, you’ll still be able to get standard or slightly sub-standard ratings.
However, if you prefer, you can get alternative life insurance policies. Such as, burial life insurance or guaranteed issue life insurance. These policies may be more expensive and contain fewer benefits. But, you won’t have to take a medical exam of any kind.
People suffering from OCD often live with severe emotional distress. Feeling controlled by thoughts and impulses on a constant basis is a lot to deal with.
Plus, trying to find affordable life insurance with this mental illness is an additional burden. However, just as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) doesn’t have to dictate your life, OCD doesn’t have to prevent you from getting good life insurance coverage. By taking proactive measures and working with your life insurance agent, you can get a policy that works for you.