Insurance cover and mental health

Explains how mental health problems can affect insurance cover, what your rights are, and how to choose the right cover for you. Includes a list of specialist insurance providers.

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How do I find the right cover?

Even though having a mental health problem can mean that you face certain challenges to getting insurance, there are lots of things you can do to make sure you get the cover you want. This page covers information on some things you can try:

Remember: Under disability discrimination law, it is unlawful for insurance providers to discriminate against someone with a mental health problem if it is a disability under the Equality Act 2010. However, there are exemptions in the Equality Act 2010 that allow an insurance company to make decisions based on your disability as long as the decisions are made on the basis of relevant and reliable information and the insurance company act reasonably.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly by an insurance provider because you've told them about your mental health problem, see our pages about your rights and how to make a complaint or take legal action for more information on what you can do.

Research different insurance providers

Different insurance companies provide different types of cover, and may have different attitudes covering someone with a mental health problem. To find out whether a company will cover you for a mental health problem, and how they will assess you for this, you can contact them directly or fill in a quote request on their website.

Here are some things to keep in mind when researching insurance providers:

  • Check if you are already covered. You may already be covered for basic insurance through your work (for example, some employers offer basic health or life insurance), or your bank or credit card provider. It's a good idea to check if you are already insured, and what your policy covers including if it covers pre-existing conditions, before you buy any new insurance.
  • Be aware that comparison websites may not give you the full picture. Comparison websites are very useful to get a general idea of how much policies cost, but usually the quotes they give you will not include cover for pre-existing medical conditions. You will usually have to contact an insurance provider directly to get an accurate quote.
  • Look for a provider with a thorough approach to assessment. A provider who asks you a wide range of questions about your past and current mental health before making their decision about whether to offer you insurance is likely to provide more suitable cover.

Usually a quick Google to find a travel insurance policy that will cover my condition will easily find something suitable and although it is more expensive, it is definitely better for peace of mind.

Try a specialist provider

Some companies provide cover specifically for people with pre-existing medical conditions, including mental health problems. If you find that getting insurance from a large high-street provider is difficult or expensive because of your mental health problem, you may want to look into getting insurance from a specialist provider.

See our page on specialist insurers for more details.

Check the small print

Read your policy carefully, including the small print, and make sure you understand exactly what it covers. In particular, you might want to know:

  • Does it cover pre-existing conditions? Many insurance policies don't cover pre-existing medical conditions, including standard policies you may be offered with a package holiday or credit card. If you want cover for a pre-existing condition, you may need to upgrade the policy (which can be expensive) or buy additional insurance.
  • How much is the excess fee? An excess is a sum of money you have to pay towards the cost of making a claim. Some insurance policies include a compulsory excess fee. For example, if you make a claim for £1000, but your policy includes a compulsory excess fee of £200, your provider will only pay out £800 – you will have to pay £200 of your own money. A high excess fee might mean that the policy is cheaper to buy, but you should carefully consider whether you could afford to pay the excess if you needed to make a claim.
  • Is there anything here I don't understand? If you don't understand something or need to find out more, contact the insurance company for more information.

I make sure to read into the small print to see what is covered and what is not. The most useful thing I have found is to contact [the provider] directly – sometimes anonymously – to find the right information before I commit to a policy.

Ask about reasonable adjustments

If you find applying for insurance challenging because of your mental health problem, you can ask the company to provide reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010, to make it easier for you. For example, if your mental health problem makes it hard for you to concentrate on small print, to use phones or computers, or to fill out forms, reasonable adjustment might include:

  • letting you apply by letter rather than over the phone or online
  • extending deadlines to give you more time to fill our forms or read through small print
  • communicating with a third person you've asked to help you, such as a partner, close friend or advocate.

See our pages on disability discrimination for more information on your rights under the Equality Act.

Provide a doctor's report

If you ask your GP or psychiatrist to provide a report that explains your condition in more detail, this can help your case when you apply for insurance because this should mean the insurance company has the most up-to-date and accurate information about your mental health.

Example

Omar experienced a period of anxiety seven years ago and, while he was unwell, he took two weeks off work. Over the next two years, Omar got a lot better and he now longer experiences anxiety. Omar is now applying for life insurance. He is asked whether he has ever had a mental health problem that resulted in time off work, and he answers 'yes'. The insurance company ask him to provide further information about his condition, so his GP sends them a report that shows that Omar is now well and no longer experiences anxiety. In this case, the insurance company should offer Omar the life cover and income protection insurance he wants on standard terms with no extra premium (no extra cost).

Contact an advocate

If you are finding it difficult to get insurance because of your mental health problem, you may be able to get an advocate to help you. This could be a friend, family member or a professional advocate. An advocate can:

See our pages on advocacy for more information.

 


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.


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