Cover-More: breakthrough in battle to end mental illness travel insurance discrimination

PIAC has welcomed changes to Cover-More Australia’s international travel insurance cover which signal a big step forward in the battle to get insurance companies to end systemic discrimination against people with mental health conditions.

Many travel insurance policies have blanket exclusions for mental health conditions, which leaves people without cover if they have to cancel their travel or change their plans as a result of a mental illness that develops after they purchase the policy.

Last month, Cover-More released a revised product disclosure statement which provides cancellation cover for people who are diagnosed by a psychiatrist with a mental health condition after they have taken out travel insurance and which pays overseas medical expenses provided the illness first shows itself after people have commenced their travel.

‘For years we have been working with beyondblue, Mental Health Australia and Victoria Legal Aid to get insurance companies to improve their policies for the many Australians with mental health conditions,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.

‘PIAC has assisted over 100 clients who have been treated unfairly and in many cases unlawfully by insurance companies as a result of experiencing mental health symptoms. We are very pleased that the message is finally getting through that discrimination on the basis of mental health conditions is not on.

‘We hope that Cover-More’s new approach encourages other insurance companies to take an evidence-based and common-sense approach to the risks involved in insuring people who may develop mental health issues,’ added Jonathon Hunyor.

beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman hoped the step by Cover-More Australia indicated the insurance industry was finally moving into the 21st century and other insurers would follow suit.

“Blanket exclusions which prevent travellers from being covered for mental health conditions are archaic and treat people with mental health conditions unfairly,” Ms Harman said.

Mental Health Australia CEO Frank Quinlan noted the prevalence of blanket exclusions for mental health conditions in Australian travel insurance policies. “Many Australians would be affected by blanket exclusions on travel insurance without even knowing it. Following Cover-More’s example, we hope more travel insurers will see the sense of removing such exclusions from their policies.”

Bevan Warner, Managing Director, Victoria Legal Aid said “The changes announced by Cover-More represent a positive step towards ending systemic discrimination against people with mental health conditions. This should encourage other travel insurers to meet community expectations and recognise that blanket exclusions for mental health conditions are unfair and unacceptable.”

MEDIA CONTACT: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce: 0478 739 280.

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