The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is launching its Mental Health Standards, which aims to give people with prior or existing mental health conditions a clear idea of which health, travel or protection policies to apply for when seeking insurance that caters to their needs.
Developed in collaboration with Mental Health UK and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the new Standards that are to be implemented by ABI members, will help drive consistency and best practice across the industry, improving accessibility to customers with mental health concerns by standardising communication between insurers and customers and increasing transparency over what is and isn’t covered.
The affect of travel on mental health
Forty per cent of people surveyed in ReMark’s seventh annual Global Consumer Study (GCS), conducted in May 2020, said that they have suffered a period of mental distress this year, and that stress levels in the UK had increased by 4.8 per cent.
ReMark CEO Na Jia noted that the fear of the virus and the uncertainty over jobs and money have added to stress levels – and this is one of the reasons why the ABI’s new standards are incredibly important. John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, commented: "We know that financial shocks can be really damaging for our mental health. Insurance products provide a crucial safety net that helps to support mental wellbeing, particularly for those with pre-existing conditions."
Still, as ReMark’s GCS also highlights, despite the UK rise in stress levels, there was a seven-per-cent decline globally (across 18 countries) in stress levels through the pandemic. With people spending more time at home and with families and not having to commute, with long hours at work, in lockdown, it is possible to see why there was a 6.8-per-cent decrease in stress levels, Jia reasoned.
So, what does this tell us? Well, in some ways, mental health has become less of an issue for those staying in their comfort zones – in their homes, and with their families (as ReMark’s study shows that stress levels for these individuals have decreased) – but for those planning to travel away from their homes and families, stress factors rise, especially with the increased possibility of contracting Covid-19 while on the move, and strict self-isolation regulations for different destinations.
So, there’s clearly a need for travel insurance policies that accommodate people’s mental health needs. And ABI’s mental health standards therefore come at a timely hour.
Customers happy to disclose mental health data to insurers
In addition, ReMark’s survey revealed that 60.7 per cent of respondents would be happy to disclose mental health data to their insurers. This is great news for ABI members who will soon be implementing the new Mental Health Standards across their policies.
More information from customers will make policies more accurate, while clearer signposting and transparent language used in policy wording by insurers will mean that customers are able to choose the right product for their needs. Ultimately, ABI’s new standards will allow customers to make informed decisions when purchasing insurance, and reduce the number of rejected claims, thus improving the customer journey and improving customer retention.