Meanwhile, the ABI’s MH working group is working closely with charities to develop an industry and consumer-focused initiative to improve how the protection sector serves consumers with mental health conditions.
This is scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2019, says Dr Yvonne Braun, director of policy, long-term savings and protection at the ABI.
“As we look ahead, the biggest challenge remaining is to ensure that underwriters periodically review their medical evidence for mental health conditions in a manner that is consistent across the full range of insurance products,” adds Dr Braun.
“We believe that further advancement is required in this area and are committed to finding practical and sustainable solutions.”
So, have Stevenson Farmer and the ABI’s MH working group managed to shift the dial yet?
We asked all our expert commentators for their views on the biggest improvement and the biggest barrier to change: across group or individual. Their responses may be grouped into four key areas:
- The environment and reducing stigma
- The individual and self-awareness
- Product design and underwriting
- Added value and support services
The environment & reducing stigma
Probably the biggest challenge for the industry to date is to realise that it is not all about the tools.
There is not one fix-it solution. It has to be about the environment too.
We are talking here about reducing stigma: normalising MH problems, creating an environment where individuals feel able to talk with their adviser, disclose MH issues and feel safe in the knowledge that they will not be considered uninsurable.
Ms Knowles says: “Many of our clients have already spoken to someone else and have been told they are uninsurable.
“When it comes to mental health there is a duty of care when an insurer or a broker notifies them that they cannot offer insurance.
“They are effectively telling that person that they are not normal and when it comes to mental health, this could cause a relapse or worsening of health.”
Where insurers seemingly cannot help a client, it is worth considering referring them to a specialist insurance adviser or “high risk” expert, such as Cura.
Focus on real life
Meanwhile, Justin Harper, head of marketing at LV=, adds that “the industry is guilty of being too inwardly focused”.
"Although pricing and definitions of various conditions are important to us, they’re not going to help advisers understand or recommend our products to customers.
“Collectively we need to be better at dealing with sensitive issues in a respectful, human and business-like way. How comfortable are advisers with exploring their clients’ mental health history?"
He says that paying claims and providing early interventions and back to work support are all well and good, but the industry needs to get better at telling the positive stories.