The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is aiming to train 5,000 advisers and frontline staff on mental health by the end of the year, in a bid to improve standards for insurance customers with mental health conditions.
The training, which is accredited by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), aims to improve the level of understanding of mental health in customer-facing roles through a series of free online training courses.
Yvonne Braun, director of policy for long-term savings and protection at the ABI, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has created a mental health emergency and the insurance industry is on the frontline in responding to this crisis.
“It’s our duty to help all vulnerable customers navigate what can often feel like overwhelmingly complex financial products that are there to provide peace of mind.
“We are committed to a fundamental step-change in the quality of support our industry gives customers with mental health conditions, and the launch of this training platform is vital to make this a reality and improve trust and transparency in the insurance industry.”
Developed with employee health and wellbeing specialists Rightsteps, the first course provides an introduction to mental health, with an overview of common mental health conditions, their main symptoms and how they may affect individuals.
The second provides training on communicating effectively with those who have a mental health condition.
The final course, on individual vulnerability and crisis management, aims to support advisers and frontline staff on responding “safely, appropriately and confidently” face-to-face and over the telephone to people experiencing a mental health crisis.
Debbie Kennedy, protection director at LV, said: “Mental health is a top-three reason for LV income protection claims, and this initiative will help build confidence and competence among advisers and insurers’ staff when considering, talking about and supporting mental health issues with new and existing protection clients.”
Kennedy added that LV expected disclosures about mental health issues to increase throughout the year for new protection applications.
The online training launch comes after the ABI introduced its mental health and insurance standards in September to provide better support for customers with mental health conditions when applying for health, travel or protection insurance.
Insurers have until December 31 to implement the standards, which include supporting customers by explaining the application process and why underwriting questions are being asked.
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