Best practice among providers offering mental health cover

This article is part of
Guide to mental health protection

Best practice among providers offering mental health cover

With celebrities such as Prince Harry and Prince William discussing mental health in a widely-viewed television documentary, to actors opening up on popular chat shows, the old stigma around talking about mental health seems to be disappearing. 

This is great - but how do those who suffer from a mental health condition get the support and advice they need every day? What happens when they apply for policies, or when they need to put in a claim?

Has the insurance industry gone far enough in helping people cope with and overcome mental health conditions? 

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Generally, according to financial advisers operating in both the group and individual protection space, the support offered to policyholders who suffer from mental health issues has become far better over the past few years.

Robert Harvey, independent protection expert for Drewberry, notes a "large number" of providers now offer access to helplines in one form or another, as one of their additional benefits."

For example, in March this year, Aviva launched a mental health service to help employees of its large corporate clients get quick, specialised support when experiencing a mental health condition.

Available through the corporate health insurance product, Optimum, employees can get an assessment within 48 hours, and integrated end-to-end clinical treatment with a dedicated case manager.

They can self-refer at any time by calling Aviva's claims helpline, and will received an individually tailored treatment plan, with access to a wide range of specialists.

Then in April, Health Shield updated its Tailored Health Cash Plan by launching a mental health app, called Thrive, to help individuals identify, prevent and self-manage common mental health conditions.

According to Brett Hill, managing director for The Health Insurance Group: "As awareness of mental health issues has grown, many of the major insurers have increased the level of support available to customers."

For example, Axa PPP Healthcare offers a Stronger Minds service. Nicola Mohns describes this: "All that members who are experiencing stress, anxiety or other mental health concerns have to do is call our customer service team.

"They will check if the member is covered and, if they are, will pass them to a qualified counsellor or psychologies in our Stronger Minds team." After an initial assessment, the individual will be directed to suitable evidence-based treatment, which could be: 

  • Counselling - face to face, by email or over the phone.
  • Treatment with a psychologist.
  • Referral to a specialist.
  • Self-help.

So there is plenty of provision - but does this sort of additional support work? According to data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Group Risk Development (Grid), 7,900 people were supported during 2017 by the insurance industry through referrals to help and support, funded by group risk insurers. 

The figures do not break down the support given by condition, but the message is that there is support available for those who need it.

Coverage of conditions