The institute has published a guide that focuses on supporting individuals with mental health problems when buying insurance 

Insurance services could become “more accessible and supportive” for individuals with mental health problems if more firms took “action”, according to Conor D’Arcy, head of research and policy at charity Money and Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI).

To encourage this movement, the MMHPI yesterday (29 March 2023) published a practical guide to help firms support individuals with mental health problems navigate the insurance market.

The guide builds on previous research conducted by the institute, which revealed that consumers with mental health conditions were being discriminated against by travel insurers via product pricing and availability.

Although the research focused on travel insurers, MMHPI believes individuals with mental health problems face similar treatment and difficulties across a variety of insurance products – including life and income protection.

A survey of over 211 people – conducted by MMHPI between 12 and 24 August 2022 – showed that 29% of respondents decided not to disclose their condition, even though they were asked about it by an insurer, which left them at risk of losing cover.

‘Practical’ steps

Despite the challenges, D’Arcy said the organisation is aware of “how well designed customer journeys and claims processes can help those of us with mental health problems to get good outcomes”.

MMHPI’s guide therefore aims to provide “practical and tangible steps for firms to start breaking down some of these barriers”, which D’Arcy hoped would also “help insurers meet regulatory expectations under the new Consumer Duty” across the board.

The guide focuses on supporting individuals with mental health conditions when buying insurance and once they are customers.

Steps in the guide include providing mental health training for underwriters and frontline staff, as well as ensuring that all questions about mental health were relevant to calculating risk.

The guide also said a clear explanation should be provided to customers as to how a decision was made when a mental health problem had affected cover.