World Mental Health Day highlights importance of mental health provision in insurance policies
Applying for insurance and making claims can be extremely difficult and time-consuming for millions of people with mental health concerns
The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched the campaign to ‘make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’, this World Mental Health Day. Every year, on 10 October, the WHO recognise the importance of mental health care and the need for open discussion about the topic.
Many insurers have added mental health provisions into their policies, for example by recognising mental illnesses as pre-existing conditions. Not all policies will cover pre-existing conditions though, and may dismiss claims related to these issues, or not offer cover in the first place.
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is unlawful for insurers in the UK to discriminate against someone with a mental health concern if it is a disability. But there are exemptions in the Equality Act that allow an insurer to make decisions based on a disability, as long as these decisions are made on the basis of relevant and reliable information, and the insurer acts reasonably.
It is essential, though, that applicants declare any medical issues, including mental health conditions, when applying for insurance cover.
Finding cover that meets customers’ needs
There are companies who offer packages specifically for people with mental health conditions in a variety of areas, from life to travel insurance.
Iam|INSURED are specialists in life insurance for those with mental health and other pre-existing conditions. This includes life cover, income protection and critical illness cover. Their team try to make the experience of searching for cover as simple and stress free as possible. Once they understand the needs, they will find the right policy from one of their partners at a suitable price.
AllClear Travel Insurance offer packages specifically for those with mental health conditions. They can offer specialist cover for different mental illnesses, including specific coverage for those with anxiety, which affects around five per cent of the UK population. This will give a customer cover for any medical emergencies and prevent unexpected bills; plus offer support on the trip itself.
Bupa’s health insurance covers more mental health conditions than any other insurer in the UK, like anxiety, depression, OCD, post-natal depression and alcohol or substance misuse; everything except dementia and learning, behavioural and development problems. They do cover conditions that appear after taking out a policy though, including mental health conditions, but they could still cover those with ongoing mental health problems. Decisions are made on an individual basis so it would be useful to call their team directly.
Insurers are key players in a post-pandemic world
Nathan Hill, Market Lead, Life and Health UK & Ireland at Swiss RE, explained how insurers can do more to support people with mental health concerns, particularly after the rise in cases of anxiety and depression throughout periods of lockdown.
“Our own research shows that some 45 million consumers across Europe are looking for support to help prevent negative mental health episodes – and, crucially, intervene early if things start to decline.
“Insurers and reinsurers can play a vital role here – chiefly through adopting a holistic, evidence-based approach to claims which takes into consideration a claimant's physical health, psychological factors such as lifestyle stress, and social factors like family structure.
“Taken together, these consider the whole person to assess their individual drivers, motivation and needs, and, where appropriate, provide tailored support to aid their recovery and return to work.”
But it is not just about offering coverage for those with mental illness noted Hill. He believes the biggest difference can be made in claims prevention and early intervention: “This could include targeted intervention solutions for those with higher susceptibility towards mental ill health, such as those working in the medical profession, or expectant and new mothers.”
To conclude, Hill said: “We can all do more to understand what people need to support good mental health, widen access to support services and further improve their insurance journey.”
World Mental Health Day offers an opportunity for those with mental health conditions and advocates for mental health services to openly discuss with employees, employers, governments and others the subject and what more can be done. This is particularly important post-pandemic, where the WHO estimates the rise in anxiety and depressive disorders was more than 25 per cent during the first year of the crisis and ensure mental health and wellbeing becomes a global priority for all.
For support with and advice for mental health conditions, the charity Mind have an Infoline (0300 123 3393) that is open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. weekdays. The Samaritans’ phone line (116 123) is available 24/7, 365 days a year to offer judgement-free help.
Neurodevelopmental disorders can also be excluded from healthcare plans of workers, but Healix Health Services have recently added a new benefit for employees who are neurodivergent.