1. Ella Ingram on insurance discrimination
    Why not send a message to insurance companies that discrimination is not OK and mental illness shouldn’t be stigmatised.
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Taking action to stop discrimination by insurance providers

Beyond Blue and Mental Health Australia (MHA) are increasing awareness and advocacy efforts to address discrimination by insurance providers, and we need your support.

Together we have repeatedly appealed to the insurance industry to change their practices towards people with mental health conditions who are denied coverage, charged higher premiums, or have their claim rejected for travel, income protection, total and permanent disability and life insurance.

People continue to approach us claiming to have been treated unfairly. Many have been confronted with higher premiums and more exclusions on their insurance policies and, in many cases, have been refused cover or had claims rejected. They may have experienced psychological distress for short-term life situations such as financial or relationship difficulties. They could have symptoms that have not returned for many years, or may no longer require treatment.

We will continue to call on insurers to ensure they are using contemporary evidence and data, and considering individual circumstances, instead of making broad assumptions about a person's ability to function and, therefore, their risk to insure.

Speak up

Achieving change right now is our goal. To do this we need as many people as possible to come forward and tell their stories about ways in which insurance companies may have discriminated against them because of their experience of a mental health condition.

Beyond Blue and MHA have developed an information sheet which provides information about our work in this space and how you can get involved.

Landmark win for former schoolgirl who stared down the insurance giant 

In 2015 Beyond Blue and MHA welcomed the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal’s finding that QBE discriminated against Ella Ingram, 21. The tribunal found that QBE discriminated against Ella twice. Firstly, when it issued her with travel insurance that excluded any coverage for mental health conditions and secondly, when QBE rejected her travel insurance claim when she was hospitalised with depression at the age of 17 and couldn’t go on a school trip to New York for which she had already paid.

Her case, presented by Victoria Legal Aid, was an Australian first and seen as a test of the lawfulness of insurance discrimination on the grounds of mental illness.

Ella made headlines when she challenged insurance giant QBE and went on to be named among BBC's 100 inspirational women. 

What can you do to take action? 

If you have a complaint about an insurance policy or claim, or wish to appeal a decision made by an insurance company, there are several options available: 

  • Lodge a complaint or appeal with the insurance company's customer complaints section, seeking a review of their decision.
  • If contacting the insurance company directly does not lead to a satisfactory resolution of your complaint, you can make a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.

    If you believe you may have been discriminated against because of your experience of a mental condition, you can make a complaint of disability discrimination to one of the following:

    • Australian Human Rights Commission – www.humanrights.gov.au
    • Your state or territory based human rights, anti-discrimination or equal opportunity body

    The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) can provide free legal advice and, if appropriate, legal representation in relation to your complaint. Legal advice may include advice on the best place to make a complaint for your particular case. If you would like to obtain legal advice about your options, contact: Michelle Cohen, Senior Solicitor, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Phone: (02) 8898 6535, Email: mcohen@piac.asn.au

    If you live in Victoria, you can also contact Victoria Legal Aid for free, confidential legal information about discrimination matters. Victoria Legal Aid can be contacted on 1300 792 387 or by visiting https://www.legalaid.vic.gov.au/contact-us

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