"I'm sure there must be many, many people which are out there who have depression and they haven't actually disclosed that," Glen Smith told an Australian media outlet recently. "But because my wife was honest and did disclose it, she was knocked back. So my suggestion is don't disclose it."
It’s understandable that Smith would feel this way but there are better ways for advisors to handle this type of situation for clients.
Naoshad Pochkhanawala is an insurance advisor in Toronto but also a volunteer and speaker with Partners with Mental Health, an organization dedicated to changing the way people think about mental health. He knows a thing or two about how to stickhandle this tricky situation.
It all comes down to advisors presenting the client in the best light possible. If they suffer from depression, for instance, but have been receiving treatment or are taking medication and they’ve been exhibiting stability over the last 6-24 months then it’s likely underwriting will look upon this with an understanding eye.
“The most frustrating is when for whatever reason, an attending physician’s statement is ordered for something completely unrelated. It happens that during an annual check-up or some other reason while visiting their family doctor the client said they were 'stressed,' 'sad,' 'frustrated' or something along those lines,” Pochkhanawala told LHP. “There may have been a perfectly valid reason (lost a job, divorce, death in family, etc.) and the doctor wrote into their notes that the patient was depressed. Sorting this out usually takes a questionnaire and a supporting letter.”
The fact is, says the advisor, Canadians are totally stressed out. One in five will experience a mental health problem this year and according to Statistics Canada, 23.5% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported that most days were extremely or quite a bit stressful. Mental health issues aren’t unusual in today’s go-go culture of today.
The numbers suggest carriers will ultimately have to adapt their underwriting to acknowledge and allow for depression rather than use it to rule out coverage.
For now it falls to advisors to make the case for full disclosure and to suss out carriers willing to play ball.
Six years ago an Australian woman applying for life coverage admitted to her insurance carrier that she had a history of mental illness. She was denied a policy and two years later died of cancer without leaving a legacy for her grieving husband.