Senate Economics References Committee - Inquiry into consumer protection in the banking, insurance and financial sector.
Read beyondblue's comments on the treatment and discrimination of people who have either a past or current mental health condition by the insurance industry when trying to access or claim on travel insurance and general insurance policies including life, income protection and total and permanent disability policies.
We believe that discrimination within the insurance industry demonstrates failures in the current law and regulatory framework; the enforcement of the existing laws; and the significant personal and social impacts arising from these consumer protection failures.
Australian Government Treasury – Design and Distribution Obligations and Product Intervention Power – Proposals Paper.
This submission outlines the significant challenges and issues that people with mental health conditions experience in accessing and claiming against insurance products in Australia, compared to the rest of the population.
Our recommendations focus on the critical need for the insurance industry to become much more sophisticated in their risk profiling of mental health conditions to prevent discrimination. To better inform product development and risk management, a structured and collaborative approach combining evidence, data and knowledge from actuarial practices, claims management, medicine, public health, and research is needed.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Development of the Consular Strategy 2017-19: Mental Health
In November 2016, beyondblue provided a submission to the Australian Government Consulate to support the development of their three-year strategy and advise on how to improve travel insurance coverage for people with mental health conditions. The recommendations include:
- Formalising appropriate mental health training reflecting a staff member’s function and the degree of exposed risk.
- Developing and prominently locating a specific webpage on the Smartraveller website detailing the implications of mental health for travel insurance coverage.
- Supporting and advocating for the insurance industry to remove blanket mental health exclusions from travel insurance products.
- Working with insurance companies to develop a travel insurance product that ensures people with mental health conditions are covered while travelling overseas.
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services – Life Insurance Inquiry
In April 2015, beyondblue provided an extensive submission to the Senate Economic References Committee Inquiry - Scrutiny of Financial Advice – Life Insurance. This committee has ceased post-election and has been superseded by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporate and Financial Services Inquiry.
beyondblue’s submission draws on the hundreds of stories that have been shared by people who have experienced a mental health condition or poor mental health, to draw attention to the significant difficulties that people experience in obtaining and claiming on insurance products, and how such practices reinforce stigma. The submission makes recommendations to increase the availability and use of actuarial and statistical data, promote individual risk assessment, increase transparency and improve complaints processes and the enforcement of discrimination laws.
Australian Government Treasury - Review of the financial system external dispute resolution framework
In October 2016, beyondblue made a submission to the Australian Government Treasury in response to their Issues Paper – Review of the financial system external disputes resolution framework. This submission provides recommendations on how to improve the external dispute resolution framework for people engaging in the financial service sector. The focus of this submission is on the Financial Ombudsmen Service and how it could be improved to better support people with mental health conditions.
In December 2016, the Australian Government Treasury released Interim Report – Review of the financial system external dispute resolution and complaints framework on the same issue for consultation with more extensive recommendations for improvement. beyondblue identified areas for further comment in this report and has developed a second submission in response.
Senate Economics References Committee – Inquiry into the Scrutiny of Financial Advice – Life Insurance
This submission by beyondblue to the Senate Economics References Committee outlines the significant challenges and issues that people with mental health conditions experience in accessing and claiming against insurance products in Australia, compared to the rest of the population. This includes outright refusal of coverage, increased premiums or excessive exclusions placed on policies.
beyondblue is keen to work in collaboration with industry and government on concrete actions to change this so that insurers do not unfairly discriminate on mental health grounds and apply sound, effective and proportionate judgement to individual insurance policy applications and claims, based on robust, contemporary statistical and actuarial data.