Mental illness and insurance

PIAC provides legal advice and representation to people who have been denied insurance (such as travel, income protection and life insurance) because of their history of actual or perceived mental illness, or where they have had their insurance cancelled because they didn’t disclose a mental health symptom or condition at the time they applied for their policy.

There are three problems that seem to be recurring.

The first is where an applicant has disclosed to their insurer a mental health condition during the application process and the insurer refuses to offer insurance altogether, leaving the person unable to protect themselves against some of the biggest financial risks in life. 

The second problem is where an insurer offers insurance but on terms that broadly exclude claims arising from any mental health condition, not just the mental health condition the person has been diagnosed with.

The third problem is that, where an insurer believes a person has failed to disclose to them a mental health symptom or condition, insurers are cancelling those policies even where the non-disclosure is minor and other less extreme options are available to them to deal with the non-disclosure, such as varying the terms of the existing policy. 

In one case, a policy was cancelled after our client made a claim relating to their diagnosis with a terminal illness.  The policy was cancelled by the insurer on the basis that our client hadn’t disclosed treatment for symptoms of a mental illness when they applied for the insurance, despite never having been diagnosed with a mental illness and despite there being no available evidence of a link between the terminal illness and mental illness.

PIAC has provided assistance to over 66 individuals who have been referred to us through our continuing relationships with beyondblue and the Mental Health Council of Australia.  We have successfully settled a further two matters this year and have a number of other complaints open.

For further information about the project call 8898 6500.

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