Explains what challenges you might face when applying for insurance cover, what is meant by a pre-existing medical condition, and how you can find the right cover. Also explains what could happen if you need to make a claim.
Unfortunately, if you have a mental health problem you may sometimes find it hard to get the right insurance policy. This page covers:
This can be extremely frustrating, but there are some steps you can take to make it easier. See our information on getting the right insurance cover, your insurance rights and how you can challenge discrimination by insurers.
“I've had problems finding affordable car insurance as my condition means I can be off work for long periods of time. Having 'unemployed' as my occupation drives the premium right up.”
A pre-existing medical condition is any condition you have at the time you apply for insurance.
Many insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. This means that they will not pay out on a claim related to a pre-existing condition, including mental health problems.
For example, if you have a diagnosis of depression when you apply for insurance, this would be considered a pre-existing condition. If your policy does not cover pre-existing conditions, but you try to make a claim related to your depression, your insurer will dismiss your claim as invalid and will refuse to pay out any money.
David has a diagnosis of schizophrenia and buys a standard travel insurance policy. The policy says it covers medical treatment, including for mental health problems. But in the small print it says that this doesn’t cover pre-existing medical conditions.
While he’s travelling, David becomes unwell with problems related to his diagnosis and needs hospital treatment. In this case, this treatment would not be covered by his policy, and David would have to pay for it all himself.
Having a mental health problem can mean that you face certain challenges to getting insurance. But there are things you can do to make sure you get the right cover at a good price. You might find it helpful to:
“Usually a quick Google to find a travel insurance policy that covers my condition will easily find something suitable. And although it’s more expensive, it’s definitely better for peace of mind.”
If there is anything you don't understand or you need to find out more, contact the insurer.
“I make sure to read the small print to see what’s covered and what isn’t. The most useful thing I’ve found is to contact the insurer directly, sometimes anonymously, to find the right information before I commit to a policy.”
Staff at insurance companies may not have a good understanding of mental health, or experience in assessing mental health. This can feel challenging or frustrating. But remember that you deserve to be treated with respect.
Insurers should offer at least 2 ways of communicating. For example, you could ask to:
If your mental health problem meets the definition of a disability under the Equality Act 2010 and it makes applying for insurance more challenging, you may also be able to ask for reasonable adjustments. For example, you could ask to:
If you’re 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 information on advocacy to find out more.
Insurance can be expensive. And if you’re already struggling with money, trying to find affordable insurance can add to these worries. If your financial situation is making your mental health worse, see our pages on money and mental health for some ideas that could help.
The Mental Health & Money Advice website also has tips, advice and videos on coping with money problems, including information about finding the right insurance cover.
Once you’ve taken out an insurance policy, you may find yourself in a position where you have to ‘make a claim’.
An insurance claim is when you ask your insurer to pay the cost of a loss or event that is covered in the policy that you took out with them.
Sometimes, insurers may reject insurance claims, or refuse to pay the full amount. There can be various reasons for this. It can be really worrying and frustrating to have a claim refused, especially if you feel that the decision is unfair.
For more information on why your claim might be refused and what you can do next see the MoneyHelper and Citizens Advice websites, and our tips on what you can do if an insurer rejects your application or claim.
For help understanding your legal rights when making a claim, see our information on your rights when dealing with insurers.
This information was published in February 2022. We will revise it in 2025.
This page is currently under review. All content was accurate when published.
References and bibliography available on request.
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