Life insurers urged to share grounds for exclusion

Life insurers need to make the data they use to assess mental health claimants publicly available, the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) believes.

Speaking at the Financial Services Counsel's (FSC's) Life Insurance Conference in Sydney this week, NMHC chair, Allan Fels, repeated the call made by a number of mental health groups for insurers to provide better information regarding policy exclusions and entitlements.

"The reality is insurance can be a murky area for people with a mental health issue, indicating there is room for improvement when it comes to explaining entitlements and grounds for exclusion," he said.

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"People with experience of mental illness deserve to have fair access to insurance and to have their claims assessed fairly, with those assessments grounded in reliable statistical or actuarial evidence.

"Increasing awareness will not only inform people of their entitlements, but it will also help people identify if they are refused coverage or denied a claim on false grounds, as we have unfortunately seen still does occur.

"The recent attention [on the industry] also shines a light on the opportunity for insurers to be more flexible and take a recovery focused approach to dealing with people with mental health concerns."

While Fel noted that the industry had room for improvement, he praised initiatives by the FSC and other organisations aimed at boosting awareness of the need to support claimants.

"We are encouraged by some recent actions taken across the industry to ensure fair access to the market for people with mental illness," he said.

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