Life Insurance with PTSD (Post traumatic Stress Disorder)

Planning for your future | Life Insurance

Life Insurance with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Life Insurance with PTSD can be a difficult task at times. Although, it shouldn’t be. Life insurance with PTSD is still possible and affordable. It depends on many circumstances. PTSD has been a growing issue across the globe over the past few decades. Many War veterans, military personnel, law enforcement personnel is being affected by PTSD. This can make obtaining affordable life insurance much more of a daunting task.

Our goal at GoodLifeProtection is to provide you with valuable information. Information to make this task a little less stressful and easier to navigate. Living with PTSD can be a difficult task all on its own. Even when well controlled, you have the worry of when the next episode may come along. It can place strain on families going through the condition.

Life insurance with PTSD can be an easier task depending on how you choose to handle it and who you decide to work with. For now, let’s break down and take in a deep look at PTSD and what it means for you and your family.

Who does PTSD Impact?

We have referenced this before in other blog posts such as, “Life Insurance for Law Enforcement.” PTSD often occurs after witnessing something traumatic. It is not any specific event that can cause an onset of PTSD. Anyone who has seen Law and Order Special Victims Unit, you know that PTSD is referenced often in victims of sexual abuse. Many other occurrences can cause someone to suffer from PTSD. Other common sources that entail PTSD becoming a medical condition for an individual include:

  • Brutal or Violent Assaults
  • Graphic Visuals (during times of war or a crime scene for law enforcement personnel)
  • Terrorist acts or visuals of reliving acts of terrorism- Example – September 11th, 2001
  • Rape or Sexual Assault
  • Serious Accidents or reliving an accident that resulted in loss of life
  • Natural Disasters or reliving a natural disaster event- Example- Hurricane Katrina
  • Personal Assaults or reliving an abusive relationship
  • Combat trauma or reliving combat experience from war
  • Shooting incidents for Law Enforcement
  • Discharging of firearms
  • Abusive drug or alcohol-related relationships growing up or in current personal lives

Infographic explaining what PTSD is.  Who PTSD impacts.  The common symptoms of PTSD and key statistics of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


PTSD is classified as a psychiatric disorder.

This disorder occurs in the people we have discussed above, but not always. PTSD is not picky about who it chooses to impact. It has been shown to impact people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. The ages that PTSD can impact can vary. Over the course of years, it has shown to have lasting effects on people of all ages.

Not very long ago, it was said that roughly 5% of Americans or roughly 4 million people would have PTSD throughout any given year. That causes a lot of people feeling they may not be able to get life insurance. We will get to that soon. PTSD can change and alter the ease of everyday activities. Going to work or even spending time with people you care about may be difficult. Sleeping can be one of the major areas PTSD can take control over. According to reports, sleeping is a top 3 concern for people currently battling PTSD.

Here are the top 4 symptoms of PTSD according to the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs 

  • Reliving the event- Re-creating what happened. The trauma that affected you continues to surface and replay over and over.
  • Social Anxiety OR avoiding Social Triggers that cause you to have reliving memories.
  • Social Anxiety- Perceiving yourself in a negative way or carrying guilt or blame. Old activities and hobbies no longer carry the same joy and relief they used to for you.
  • Constantly on edge or anxiety filled. Irritable, easily startled or frequently turning to alcohol and drugs as a fix.

Life Insurance is by far not in your top priority considering all other problems PTSD is causing in your everyday life.

Some people even experience:

  • Depression, anxiety, and in extreme cases- Suicide Attempts
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse
  • Trouble maintaining one steady place of employment
  • Family and relationship problems
  • Shame and Despair

How is PTSD Treated?

PTSD can be treated several different ways. It depends on the individual and the circumstances. Often, life insurance carriers like to know how PTSD is treated. This is a primary way of deciding what rates to offer or even to approve the policy at all. Let’s look at the common ways PTSD is being treated. Prescription medication is a most common way of treating PTSD.

This is one area life insurance carriers are wanting to know about. Life insurance carriers have what is called, “RX prescription checks.” They check on applicants to verify what prescriptions are being filled and currently being taken. Also, prescriptions that have been prescribed in the past. Medications can be a big factor in your rates and chances of approval for life insurance.

What are other common methods for treating PTSD?

  • Psychotherapy- This can be broken down into a few different subcategories.
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) – This is where you work through your feelings and negative thoughts on the prior event. The idea behind this is to change perception. If you can convince yourself to feel differently about the event that has occurred, experts believe you have a chance of overcoming the PTSD symptoms.
  • Prolonged Exposure (PE) – This is the, “beat the dead horse” method. You continue to walk and talk through your experience until you can overcome the traumatic experience. Experts believe that if you use this method, you will begin to view it as NOT so traumatic. Then you can begin returning to everyday life at some point in the process.

Neither of these methods are the deciding factor on life insurance approval processes, or the rates you achieve. Underwriters will want to know how the PTSD is being treated. Also, with what form of a physician you are seeing to overcome the symptoms.

Medications for PTSD

Medicating PTSD has shown to be effective over the years. The effectiveness of treating systems with certain prescriptions has shown to decrease symptoms. Also, making the PTSD more manageable. Neurotransmitters release different amounts of chemicals for everyone. This can increase or decrease the severity of the PTSD. The goal is to treat and manage with the medications that fit the individual’s needs. Sometimes, one medication will help re-balance the chemistry in one’s brain. Although, sometimes it does not work that easy.

  • SSRIs
  • SNRIs

These are the two most common methods of treatment for PTSD. Also, the most used forms of medication. In most circumstances, the severity of PTSD will determine which medications and treatments are needed. Sometimes a low dose of one medication will take care of the symptoms. Sometimes it will take many medications, or trial and error to help treat the symptoms.

Your life insurance rates may be affected depending on your medications to help treat the symptoms of PTSD. Outside of the SSRI’s and SNRI medication, there is another group of medication that classifies into the antidepressant category. Outside of these categories, you have other forms of medications you may be taking such as:

  • Mood Stabilizers
  • Antipsychotics
  • Beta Blockers
  • Benzodiazepines

So How does this change your potential Life Insurance Rates?

Life Insurance carriers like to see how a condition is being treated and how stable it is. Life insurance carriers find it important to know how many medications it takes to control the condition. Often, it takes more than three medications to control a condition. The rates can become affected more if this is the case.

One of the biggest problems PTSD poses for individuals seeking life insurance is that it is often linked to major depression. The carriers want to dig into your history, so it is important to be honest about the condition and its severity. If you have prior suicide attempts, it is going to be more difficult to get life insurance coverage. Although, it is not impossible.

There are several different insurance carriers that exist. There also offer different levels of coverage and extra “perks” within the policy. If you fit the criteria to be able to open shop all insurance carriers you need, take advantage of it. Speak with an Agent who represents many of the carriers. Also, one who can find you a comprehensive life insurance policy. Different life insurance policies offer a wide variety of options such as-

  • Living Benefits
  • Special Riders such as Children’s Riders, Waiver of Premium and Long-Term Care Riders
  • Accidental Death Riders

I have handled several cases with clients that have had PTSD. Let me share a few experiences of the differences of how a case may be viewed by the life insurance carrier. I want to give you an inside look at a case that went very smooth and a case that did not go nearly as well.

Case Study #1- Result: Case Declined- Underwriting Time- (37 days)

I was contacted by an individual seeking his first life insurance policy since being discharged from the Marines. He was a male – age 48. This individual was overall in good health.

  • Non-Smoker
  • No Family history of heart trouble, cancer or stroke
  • Average build (height and weight)

Overall, if we exclude the PTSD he would have most likely been looking at preferred rates. After all, he met all the criteria needed to do so. The wildcard became the PTSD. This is where obtaining life insurance with PTSD can be a little tricky.

The client informed me he had PTSD, which is an initial good first step. He disclosed he was diagnosed four years prior and was currently taking one medication for sleeping purposes to control the symptoms. He had been on the same medication for 18 months which is usually long enough to show its stability. Also that you are not going back and forth between medications trying to find the correct fit. I documented it and then walked him through the next steps and what to expect.

The case was going very smooth and then the life insurance carrier wanted to order what is the “APS” form. The APS form is known as the “Attending Physician Statement”. This form allows the insurance company to verify all relevant medical information with your primary physician. Also, to see the case with more clarity.

During all my conversations with this client so far, it was the one medication, the formal diagnosis, and seemed to be controlled. In my head, I was thinking this was going to be an easy wrapped up case.

Boy was I wrong! I received the email notification the following day.

The client had been declined. In my head, I am thinking, “how did this happen?” Well, let’s just say the client lacked full disclosure with me. Come to find out, the PTSD was about twice the severity and the client was abusing alcohol. Other medication was also a factor in his treatments to control the PTSD.

The most frustrating part was…. the client not disclosing this information up front. Knowing this information prior would have left more options than the room that was left after being declined. The thing to understand or take from this is that your life insurance agent wants and can help you. Especially, Independent Insurance Agents who have many options.

Transparency is the only way for the life insurance agent to be able to help effectively. Sometimes, it takes a well-crafted cover letter and explanation to underwriters, to help get a policy approved. It can go a long way to help the cause. In this situation, I was left in the dark so not much I could do.

Case Study # 2- Result: Policy Approved- Time in Underwriting- (26 Days)

As you can already see, this case went a bit faster. The surprising part of it was……this individual had more issues and complications related to the PTSD. This client was younger – Age 37 and a smoker. This individual had PTSD diagnosed after serving 2 tours in Iraq. The PTSD itself was not considered severe but it was at best “mild”. It did need an anti-depressant that the client was stable on for over one year with no medication changes.

The client also required the use of a sleep aid and was briefly on a mood stabilizer. After trying the mood stabilizer 24 months prior, the client had adverse side effects. The client then discontinued the use of this medication. This all needed to be well documented to line up with the RX report that the Life Insurance carrier will reference.

Side Note-

an RX report is a report the Life Insurance carrier will reference to check past or current prescriptions. Without a detailed explanation of the situation, the RX report can cause cases to be declined.

This client again met the profile for preferred ratings under all circumstances. All minus the PTSD and medications. The height and weight were both within range and all health considerations were normal. It looked to be easy, approval-worthy. The PTSD needed some further documentation and explanation. This did, of course, impact the rating.

Someone who recognizes the importance of life insurance is usually willing to absorb higher premiums. This is for the peace of mind protecting their family. It is usually easy to tell who is and who is not willing to do so. This client, due to the transparency and documentation of the application process, was able to get approved for $500,000.00 in coverage. Which was only about $41.00 dollars per month higher than standard ratings.

This is a win in my book. The point I am making is that transparency and the commitment of knowing and wanting the protection is the most important steps. Without it, a decline is most likely not going to be avoided. With it, something can most likely be accomplished. You should not feel like you cannot get coverage or that it is it not possible.

What are the Options for Life Insurance with PTSD

No Exam Insurance is always a viable option to gain life insurance coverage, but when is it best to implement it? Typical no exam insurance will serve its purpose best under a few different circumstances:

  • Have you not seen a physician in the past 2 years?
  • Are you in a time crunch or need coverage fast?
  • Are you timid of medical exams, blood draws or blood pressure cuffs?

All these are typical reasons I see people opt to buy no exam life insurance. 

How does this pertain to PTSD?

Well, the first thing to know is that no exam life insurance does still pull records. Transparency is still as important. The life insurance carrier will still run the RX (prescription check and MIB) information on you. Most of the time the information revealed is the same as doing an exam. The only true difference is-

  • No actual physical exam or examiner sent to you
  • Faster- express issue or simplified issue approval times

Besides that, they act very similarly to traditional life insurance options and fully underwritten policies.

If you have PTSD that is well controlled, with minimal medications, but you have not been to your doctor as much as you should have been, no exam life insurance may be a great option for you. If you are in a time crunch or wanting fast approval, it can also be a great option.

Fully Underwritten Life Insurance with PTSD

Fully underwritten life insurance still serves a huge purpose in the life insurance industry. Clients who need to be detailed about past medical conditions or can perform an exam should lean on fully underwritten policies. They also allow for cheaper rates if you can get the high classes for health standards. The common upside to fully underwritten life insurance policies are:

  • Possibly cheaper rates
  • Better chance of approval on borderline cases
  • FREE CHANCE TO CHECK YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE AND BASIC BLOOD TEST RESULTS

And now for the Downsides

  • Yes, you will have a blood draw
  • Lengthy process- typically can take 4-8 weeks for approval
  • Always possible your rates come back more expensive

Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance with PTSD

So maybe you have PTSD and you also have other health concerns or issues. Maybe your PTSD is so severe that you cannot get approval through no exam or fully underwritten life insurance. You always have the option to turn to Guaranteed issue life insurance. Plenty of Insurance carriers offer these policies. They still allow you to protect your family and cover final expenses.

Some of the major upside of these policies

  • No questions asked- no invasive medical background checks
  • Fast approval and guaranteed approval
  • Still affordable but can be a little more costly
  • Whole life policies typically are guaranteed death benefit to age 121

Major downfalls of the policies

  • 2 year waiting period for full benefit payout
  • Prices can be inflated higher than traditional policies
  • Limited company options compared to other avenues

Company options that I recommend for Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance with PTSD

(These are listed in order of my rankings)

  1. AIG Guaranteed Issue Whole Life
  2. Gerber Life Insurance
  3. Great Western Life Insurance

Conclusion

The main take away I was trying to emphasize is that life insurance with PTSD is completely possible. It is not all that difficult depending on the circumstances. You will not ever know without speaking to an agent about it. You must be willing to be transparent and open about the condition and medical background. It is the only way the agent can effectively help you protect your family. Having PTSD is a reason to make life insurance more of a priority. Your family may depend heavily on the supplement income and debt elimination. Do not shy away from coverage because you have been diagnosed with PTSD or think you may have PTSD.

An Independent Agent will be able to navigate and bid options for you. They can work to put together a comprehensive plan for you and your family.

Life Insurance Josh Martin

Article Written by Joshua Martin– Founder- Good Life Protection- 5/22/2018

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