Ending mental health insurance discrimination: VEOHRC inquiry welcome

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre welcomes the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into unlawful discrimination against people with mental health conditions by the Victorian travel insurance industry, announced today.

Many Australians are unaware that most travel insurance policies exclude cover for mental health conditions, including mental health conditions that develop after they purchase the policy. These blanket mental health exclusions can leave people out-of-pocket thousands of dollars if they need to cancel or change their travel plans as a result of mental illness.

People who have a pre-existing mental health condition may also have difficulty obtaining travel insurance or be offered a policy at a significantly higher premium.

For several years, PIAC has been working to end unlawful discrimination by travel insurers against people with mental health conditions and has successfully assisted people to challenge decisions by travel insurers to decline their claim as a result of a blanket mental health exclusion. 

‘Although we have recently seen improvements to some travel insurance policies, there is still a prevalence of blanket mental health exclusions in the Australian market, so the Commission’s investigation is timely and necessary’ said PIAC Principal Solicitor, Laura Lombardo.

The practice of excluding mental health cover in travel insurance policies may be unlawful under state and federal anti-discrimination law. It also perpetuates stigma associated with mental illness and could deter people from seeking treatment.

‘Insurers are entitled to make decisions based on evidence and a genuine assessment of the risk profile of people seeking insurance. But they cannot rely on generalised or outdated understandings of mental health conditions.’

‘We hope the Commission’s inquiry will encourage travel insurers to end the widespread practice of blanket mental health exclusions,’ added Laura Lombardo.

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

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