If you feel you have been treated unfairly by an insurer because of your mental health problem, there are several steps you can take. This page covers information on how you can:
Complaints and legal processes can take a long time and can be stressful. If you think you might find the process tricky, you could:
- Ask a friend, family member or advocate to help support you. You can take a look at our pages on advocacy for more information about professional advocacy, and how your friends and family can act as your advocate as well.
- Contact an organisation like Citizens Advice or the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) as they may also be able to offer help.
Ask the insurance provider about its decision
If you feel that you have been given inadequate information about why the insurance company has turned you down for an insurance policy or why it has quoted a high premium you could:
- Contact the insurance provider to ask it what information it has relied on in coming to its decision.
- Ask it to be specific about any medical report, any statistical data or research material it has relied on in coming to its decision.
- Ask it to show how it has come to its decision. They should be able explain exactly how the information they've relied on is connected to your mental health problem, and why they think their quote is reasonable. For example, if you have been quoted a 25% higher premium because of your mental health problem you can ask the insurance provider to show you exactly what information and what calculations it has used to come up with that figure.
It's a good idea to collect evidence about your claim in case you want to make a complaint or take legal action in future. This could include:
- a report from a doctor about your condition
- copies of letters and emails that you send the insurance company, and that they send you
- a record of any phone conversations you have with the insurance company (for example, when you ring, try to take a note of the date, time, who you speak to and a short summary of what is said)
- any other information, such as reports, statistics and data, that supports your case.
I have found it easier to deal with problems if I am a current customer rather than as a new one as companies seem to be keen to keep you.
Complain to the insurance provider
If you're not happy with the insurance company's explanation about its decision, you can try complaining directly to the insurance provider. Most providers have a complaints procedure and should be able to tell you about this if you ask. For example, they should be able to tell you:
- The formats in which they accept complaints. You will usually need to make a complaint formally in writing, but the provider should advise you on their preferred format, for example whether they have an online form you should use, whether email is acceptable, or whether you need to send a letter in the post.
- Where you should send your complaint. Many companies will have a specific email or postal address for complaints, and some might have a specific person you should write to. Addressing your complaint correctly should help the provider process it more easily.
- Acceptable time frames, including how much time you have to make a complaint, and how long they will take to respond to your complaint.
It is generally a good idea to communicate with the insurance company in writing as much as possible, and keep a copy of any correspondence with them. Always include important details like your name, address and policy number, and set out the facts clearly and in a logical order.
For more information about how to make a complaint to an insurance company, including a downloadable template for a complaint letter, visit the Money Advice Service website.
Complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)
If you are not happy with how the insurance company deals with your complaint, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Their website has step-by-step information about how to make a complaint and provides downloadable complaints letter templates. They also have a support line if you need any help during the complaints process.
The process can take time, so bear this in mind. If the FOS decide your complaint is valid, the insurance company may have to give you an apology and/or compensation.
Take legal action
Depending on your claim, you may be able to take legal action against the insurance provider. As a first step, make sure you get legal advice from one of the following:
How much time do I have to make a claim?
If you want to make a legal claim, you must do this within six months of the incident occurring. If you have been refused insurance cover then this is 6 months after the refusal. If your complaint is about the level of premium you are being charged then you can argue that each payment of the premium is a “continuing act of discrimination” but it is better to make a legal claim within 6 months of being quoted the premium.
If your claim succeeds, the insurance company may have to provide you with compensation or agree to sell you insurance at a fair rate.
For more information on your legal rights, see our page on your rights relating to insurance and our legal pages on disability discrimination.
This information was published in April 2018 – to be revised in 2021. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.