Insurance industry can’t afford to discriminate against people living with mental illness

We have urged the insurance industry to review the service they provide to people living with mental illness in our new report: Affording protection: mental health and insurance.


Download our report, Affording protection: mental health and insurance.

Research conducted by Mental Health UK showed a clear desire among people living with mental illness to access insurance, but found that many people had struggled to navigate the process and access protection, up to the point where they felt they had been discriminated against because of their mental health.

The research revealed that:

  • 86% of people affected by mental illness said they do not know where to go for independent advice on different types of insurance that may involve declaring a mental health condition.
  • Over two-thirds of respondents (68%) believe they were unfairly discriminated against because of their mental health.
  • Nearly half of respondents (45%) said the process of applying for insurance left them feeling distressed.

The findings indicated how the insurance industry can provide guidance on the application process to improve the customer experience, with 56% of those polled saying they want insurers to be clear about how an applicant’s mental health will impact their application.

The process seemed overcomplicated and seemed to imply that I might be uninsurable. I was too anxious to question this.

– Survey respondent

The research also showed that negative experiences of applying for insurance itself was deterring people from trying again, with potential applicants seeking greater reassurance and positivity from insurance providers that life insurance and other forms of protection insurance are possible for people living with a mental health condition.

Without adequate insurance, over two-thirds of those polled (69%) said that they were concerned about losing their job, their home, and getting into financial difficulty as a result of being offered high premiums or being excluded altogether.

The report makes eight recommendations, which focus on encouraging insurers to review their application processes to improve the customer experience, increase transparency and expand the training of their staff at every level of the business to better respond to customers with experience of mental illness.

We also ask the government to take affirmative action to ensure that people living with mental illness who seek insurance benefit from the protections of the Equality Act and ensure that its application is properly monitored.

People living with mental illness should be afforded the same protection for themselves and their families as everyone else. The experiences described by many of the people who took part in our research are based on a misconception in the insurance industry of what mental illness means and how to approach it.

“Our recommendations aim to tackle the issues that people face in accessing insurance, to extend the security that the industry provides to more people living with mental illness and help open up a new market for the industry.

– Brian Dow, CEO of Mental Health UK

Watch our launch event discussing the findings of the report below.

Insurance and mental health guide

Our Mental Health and Money Advice service has also launched a new mental health and insurance guide which offers help for people living with a pre-existing mental health condition. You can find information on the type of coverage you may need, how to find the right insurer, a list of specialist insurance providers for people with mental health conditions, what your rights are and how to make a complaint about an insurer.

Your donation will make the difference

Just £10 could help pay for a call to our advice and information line, supporting someone living with mental illness who may be feeling in distress during this time.

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