MENTAL HEALTH AND INSURANCE

/ 31 January 2019

Travel insurance can be as cheap as £9 for annual Europe cover. Of course, costs can increase if you declare a pre-existing medical condition. However, if that medical condition relates to a mental health issue, prices can soar.

1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and nearly half of us will be affected at some point. While mental health conditions should not be treated any differently to physical health problems, this is not always the case.

Esther Rantzen went to meet Money and Mental Health Policy Institute’s (MMHPI) Director Helen Undy, who told her that their research has revealed that almost half of people with mental health problems ‘never’ disclose their illness to their travel insurer, potentially invalidating any insurance they might take out.

Those who do disclose face much higher premiums. The MMHPI is calling for a change and want the Financial Conduct Authority to look into whether travel insurance pricing for this group complies with the Equality Act 2010.

In the studio, Ruth met Elizabeth Watson, who’s campaigning for change on the issue. Elizabeth was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression 5 years ago. In 2017 Elizabeth decided to book a holiday to Spain. She tried to purchase travel insurance but the combination of her physical and mental conditions meant cover wasn’t forthcoming – it excluded her mental health conditions.

Elizabeth has since set up a petition that calls for the Financial Service Authorities, and others to stop discriminating against those with mental health issues and to offer travel insurance at a reasonable price. It is generally only physical conditions “in the last 5 years” that needs to be disclosed, whereas there is no limitation on mental health conditions, which seems unfair. She has 65,000 signatures.

To find Elizabeth’s petition, please visit: https://www.change.org/p/stop-travel-insurance-companies-discriminating-against-mental-health-conditions

To find out more about the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, please visit: https://www.moneyandmentalhealth.org/

To find out more about MIND’s advice on mental health and insurance, please visit:

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/insurance-cover-and-mental-health

To find out more about the Financial Conduct Authority, please visit:  https://www.fca.org.uk/

To find out more about the Association of British Insurers, please visit: https://www.abi.org.uk/