Mental Health, Income Protection and exclusions – what you need to know

Mental health conditions might not be as easy to pin down as physical health conditions, but insurers are increasingly recognising the need to provide cover and support to people suffering with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. One in four of us in the UK will be affected by a mental health problem in any given year, and of these, around four million will also struggle with their financial well being.

The insurance industry continues to demonstrate increasing commitment to aiding people suffering from mental ill health. In 2017, Mental Health was the most common cause of claim on income protection policies in the UK.

There is no difference in any of the insurance decision making processes for mental health to those for physical health. The process by which decisions are made and guidelines are written is consistent for every medical condition whether physical or mental health (or, as is often the case, a combination of the two.) If you are considering income protection and have a mental health condition here are some things you might like to consider:

The importance of disclosure

For many insurance products, disclosing pre-existing mental health conditions is very important. A pre-existing medical condition is any condition you have at the time you apply for insurance. Some 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, sometimes this can include mental health problems. If you have been denied cover of a pre-existing mental health condition, you can contact us for specialist advice.

Insurers need to know about existing conditions as it allows them to understand the type of mental health condition, and the associated risk based on scientific evidence. Mental Health conditions can have a direct impact on a sufferer’s risk of premature death or disability and there are also links to greater risk of abuse of medication, drugs or alcohol, which increases the risk of a serious accident.

Regardless of your age or health status, you will need to provide information on your mental health and whether you have been diagnosed with or treated for a mental health condition. Some insurers want clients to disclose all mental health episodes regardless of when they occurred.

It is important that you disclose complete and accurate information because it affects the risk assessment, the premiums charged and the terms and conditions of their insurance policy. It’s a legal requirement that you answer honestly, and failure to do so may result in your policy being void.

If you have suffered from stress, anxiety or depression and have received treatment in the last 5 years you will likely be excluded for mental health, however as a result some providers will give you a 10% discount for the exclusion.

Information you might need

Some insurance policies may or may not cover pre-existing medical conditions depending on the severity of the condition. If you’re having trouble finding a policy due to a pre-existing mental health condition, you can contact us at 020-3668-6629 and we will be able to help you find the cover you need. If you have been diagnosed, or have received treatment for a mental health condition, the insurer may want to know the following: • Date of diagnosis
• Method of treatment
• Past methods of treatment
• Doctor’s details
• Symptoms and dates of last symptoms
• Details of any previous hospitalisations
• Specifics of time taken off work because of the condition

Some underwriters may split a question about your medical history into two asking:

1) “have you ever had” for the more serious incidents such as in-patient treatment or suicide attempts; and
2) Just ask about the last five years for other mental health issues, meaning if episodes happened before then, they may not need to be disclosed at all.

Do you have an Income protection policy with a Mental Health exclusion?

If you have a policy in place with a mental health exclusion but have had no symptoms or treatment in the last 5 years, you could be able to get a income protection insurance policy without the mental health exclusion and considering that you have had mental health problems in the past it would be prudent to review your cover, contact us now at 020-3668-6629 to speak to a specialist adviser now or email us at info@henrydannell.co.uk and we will get in touch with you.

Why have income protection to cover mental health care?

When it comes to protecting and supporting individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, protection and health insurers not only pay claims, but they also provide additional support. Support services come at no extra costs and start from the day the cover begins. It’s always there to help you, which means you can feel confident that help is always at hand.
Income protection insurers are proactive and will provide you with support services.

Many insurers provide specialist mental health service support, which enables policy holders to receive rapid access to assessment, often within 48 hours. Policy holders will often have a dedicated case manager assigned to them to take them through the whole process. This can include a tailored treatment plan and access to a wide range of specialists including psychologists, counsellors and psychiatrists.

Accessing support services

Most insurers will provide access to support services 24 hours a day. These can offer support on a range of topics which may trigger stress or anxiety, such as finances, relationships and legal issues, as well as dedicated mental health counsellors. These services can be accessed through dedicated helplines as well as through interactive online services.

Rehabilitation services

Many insurers offer access to rehabilitation teams who help manage an employee’s or individual policy holder’s sickness absence. They often offer access to counselling and a wide range of other services, including assistance with HR issues and legal assistance. Many income protection policies have specific mental health pathways for people to get the tailored assistance they need.

What should you Consider and what potential issues might you face?

• Advisers and insurers are used to dealing with medical conditions, both physical and mental, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed about your medical history. As with all insurance applications, when you’re applying for insurance it’s vital you’re open and honest. A tiny percentage of insurance claims are declined each year, but the main reason is due to issues of non-disclosure at the application stage, for example omitting to say you are taking medication. • You could be assessed as a ‘high risk’ customer which means that the insurance provider believes that you are more likely to claim, and as a result, may be charged a higher premium, or have a specific exclusion added to your policy.
• You may be declined insurance if you try to apply for insurance directly online and disclose that you have experienced a mental health condition or have an existing mental health condition. We therefore recommend you speak with our specialist adviser who will be able to support your specific needs.
• If your policy does not cover a specific mental health condition because of a recent history of mental illness, yet you go on to be symptom-free for a few years, it’s worth reviewing your policy in the future as cover could be accepted at standard terms, which could save you money. Your adviser will be able to advise when will be the best time to do this.

Contact us now for your fee-free income protection assessment. Getting the right policy requires bespoke, specialist advice contact us on 0204 5999 444 or email us at info@henrydannell.co.uk to get a fee-free risk assessment.

Please note: protection plans with no investment link will have no cash in value at any time and will cease at the end of the term. If premiums are not maintained, then cover will lapse.