The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is today launching Mental Health Standards to provide better support for customers with mental health conditions when applying for health, travel or protection insurance.
Customers can often face too many barriers when trying to access the service sector, especially in an increasingly digital world. This can be particularly difficult and distressing for people with mental health conditions, and the insurance sector is no different in needing to do more to support all customers.
Implementation of the Standards by ABI members will help drive consistency and best practice across the industry, meaning people with prior or existing mental health conditions will have clearer communications and a better understanding of the process and decisions insurers take when applying for cover.
Nobody should feel excluded from financial services. Customers across the services sector face too many barriers and insurance is no different."
ABI said the Standards have been developed in consultation with mental health experts, including Mental Health UK and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Actions to help customers include:
- Improving accessibility by providing support to customers who may need help completing the application form and offering two or more choices of how a customer can communicate with their insurer.
- Supporting customers throughout their application by explaining the process and why questions are being asked.
- Standardising communication with customers by removing technical language, making any exclusions clear and signposting consumers to relevant support services.
- Increasing transparency around decision making by explaining to customers, upon request, what evidence was used to inform the insurer's decision on cover and a commitment from insurers to regularly review their underwriting approach for mental health conditions.
Launched at the ABI event, ‘Unspoken stigma to national news - a spotlight on mental health and access to insurance', insurers will have until the end of the year to implement the standards.
Yvonne Braun, director of Policy for Long-Term Savings and Protection at the ABI said: "Nobody should feel excluded from financial services. Customers across the services sector face too many barriers and insurance is no different."
"People can find it difficult to navigate the increasingly digitised economy, particularly in financial services. For people with mental health conditions, this can be particularly distressing. Implementing the mental health standards will help ensure that customers get the right help and support they need when choosing to buy insurance, and is one step to help break down these barriers."