Life insurance can meet many important financial needs, but a lot of Americans often don't make the purchase, due to misconceptions about its use or coverage costs. Unfortunately, there are also Americans who understand the need for coverage but are unable to get it. One growing group of such Americans faces particular challenges in this respect: veterans with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When a veteran is denied life insurance coverage due to PTSD, it can be quite upsetting to their family, as described in a report by Military Times. One such former military family recently received a rejection letter from a major life insurer that said the decline was due to many reasons, including his anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and asthma, in conjunction with his PTSD. However, follow-up questions to the company indicated that the PTSD and depression were the primary causes of the decline.
A tough situation
Every insurance company has a different approach to underwriting mental disorders and PTSD in particular. Whether an individual will qualify for coverage depends both on the individual's unique circumstances and the company's philosophy, the report said. Some companies place less importance on these conditions, some require increased premiums due to the conditions, and other companies consider them strong reasons to decline coverage for individual life insurance.
"The great majority of members with histories of PTSD are offered life insurance, many at our very best price," said Alex Gairo, a spokeswoman for the life insurer that issued the rejection in question, told the Military Times. "As with so many health issues ranging from diabetes to depression, it is a question of degree and duration. The applicant's health history is reviewed to determine the following: how severe are the symptoms, what was the date of the onset of symptoms, how necessary are the medications to achieve effective control, does the applicant need counseling/psychotherapy? All these factors weigh in on the decision of the applicant."
What can a veteran do?
Fortunately there are options available for veterans who need life insurance and are struggling to qualify, the report said. Many group life insurance policies have less stringent underwriting standards than individual life insurance, since the risk is more spread out. These are often available from employers. For veterans whose employer doesn't offer sufficient group coverage for their needs, there are also group plans designed specifically for veterans. In particular, the Veterans Group Life Insurance is often available to veterans shortly after leaving the service.
Whether pursuing group or individual insurance, it's important to shop around, since different companies have different philosophies on PTSD.
It's important for life insurers to communicate clearly with applicants on how their circumstances affected their application, and how they can go about getting the most affordable coverage for their needs. Because so many people have misconceptions about what policies should cost and how they work, outreach is vital for the ongoing success of the life industry. Additionally, as the medical and insurance industries learn more about PTSD, the implications of this disorder on mortality risk will hopefully become clearer, and the industry's approach to underwriting it will become consistent and more easily understood.