Insurance policy for mental illness

Travel Insurance for Mental illness

Am I covered for mental health issues? Find out more about travel insurance and mental illness

Mental illness is a broad category that encompasses a variety of conditions including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety and stress. It is something of a grey area in insurance, with many insurers choosing not to cover it, or offering cover only under certain conditions. This guide takes a closer look at why it can be so hard to get insurance for pre-existing mental illness, and identifies which insurers may offer travel insurance for mental illness.

Who covers mental illness?

Many insurers will not cover claims related to mental illness, but there are some who offer varying degrees of cover. According to an investigation conducted by Choice, insurers include:

  • Cover-More. On 1 June 2017, Cover-More removed their general exclusion for mental illness. In addition, they provide cover for travel amendment and cancellation, as well as medical expenses, if a traveller experiences a serious mental health condition for the first time, e.g. first onset anxiety or depression before they travel or while overseas. Pre-existing mental health conditions are not covered, and medical expenses are only covered if your condition is serious enough that you need professional support.
  • QBE. 1 July 2017, QBE has updated its general exclusions by removing the mental health from the list. The update means that policyholders claim if they suffer any losses arising directly or indirectly from the insured or a member of the travelling party suffers a mental illness. It also updated its definition of a mental illness.
  • CGU, BUPA and InsureandGo. These insurers class mental illness as a pre-existing medical condition. All such conditions are assessed individually and a higher premium may be payable if insurance is offered. First-time episodes are generally covered, as long as medical documentation is provided to support any claim.
  • NRMA and Medibank. These insurers also class mental illness as a pre-existing condition and assess such conditions individually. First-time episodes of mental illness are not covered.
  • AllClear. AllClear provide cover for mental illness but cover is dependent upon a medical screening process.
  • Budget Direct and 1st for Women. There is no cover is provided if help has been sought for mental illness in the last five years, even if declared.

How much does it cost?

Those insurers who do cover mental illness will typically charge a higher premium, due to the higher perceived risk. But no two premiums are the same and how much you might pay can depend on the insurer, the type and severity of your mental illness and the usual factors that determine the cost of travel insurance which include:

  • The level of cover you choose (benefit amounts etc)
  • The options you select
  • The destination you are travelling to
  • Your age and general health

Difficulty in obtaining insurance

People who have or have had a mental illness can encounter difficulty in obtaining all kinds of insurance, not just travel insurance. In 2011, a national depression initiative by beyondblue and the Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) surveyed a group of people with mental illness, all of whom had applied for various insurance products in the past. The participants were asked to indicate their level of agreement with the statement "It was difficult for me to obtain insurance because I have or have had a mental illness". Their most common response on a five-point scale (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree or strongly disagree) was strongly agree (35%).

How do insurers treat mental illness?

BrandConditions
There is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from any mental illness as defined by DSM-IV including:

  • Dementia, depression, anxiety, stress or other nervous condition
  • Behavioural diagnoses such as autism
  • A therapeutic or illicit drug or alcohol addiction
AMEX Travel InsuranceThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from:

  • Suicide, attempted suicide, self-inflicted injury or condition, stress, travel exhaustion
  • Nervous condition, anxiety or stress disorders resulting in a disinclination to travel or complete your journey
AIGThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from:

  • Suicide, attempted suicide or intentional self injury
Budget DirectThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from:

  • Any psychiatric or psychological condition (including anxiety or depression)
citibankThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from:

  • Suicide, attempted suicide, self-inflicted injury or condition, stress, travel exhaustion, the transmission of any sexually transmittable disease or virus, alcohol abuse, or drugs unless prescribed by a doctor and taken in accordance with the doctor’s advice
  • Nervous, anxiety or stress disorders resulting in a disinclination to travel or complete your journey
columbus-direct-logo
  • Classes mental disorders and psychological conditions as pre‐existing medical condition, so you may be able to get cover as there is not blanket exclusion.
  • Cover is available subject to medical screening, and payment of an additional premium may be required
CoverMoreYou will not be covered for:

  • Anxiety, depression, mental illness or stress suffered by you, a relative, or another person unless referred to and diagnosed by a registered psychiatrist as a new condition (i.e. not an existing medical condition) and:
  • You are certified as unfit to travel by the treating registered psychiatrist; or
  • The treating registered psychiatrist certifies that it was medically necessary for you to amend or cancel your journey to assist a relative or another person.
Easy Travel InsuranceThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from:

  • Any mental illness including dementia, depression, anxiety, panic attack, stress, bipolar, mania, schizophrenia or other nervous disorder
Fast CoverThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from or is in any way related to:

  • Depression, anxiety, stress, mental or nervous conditions
Go InsuranceYou will not be covered for:

  • Intentional self-injury, suicide, or attempted suicide
InsureandGoYou will not be covered for claims if you or any insured person on your policy has in the last five (5) years suffered from or received medical advice, treatment or medication for:

  • Any psychiatric or psychological condition (including anxiety or depression)
iTrekYou won't be covered if your claim arises from:

  • Suicide or attempted suicide
  • Mental illness
  • Physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion, including but not limited to jet lag.
simplytravelinsuranceYou will not be covered if your claim arises from:

  • Suicide or attempted suicide
  • Mental illness
  • Physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion, including but not limited to jet lag.
Skiinsurance.com.auYou will not be covered if your claim arises from:

  • Suicide or attempted suicide
  • Mental illness
  • Physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion, including but not limited to jet lag.
SCTIThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from or is in any way related to:

  • Depression, anxiety, stress, mental or nervous conditions
STA Travel InsuranceYou will not be coverd if your claim arises from or is anyway related to:

  • Mental illness
  • Dementia, depression, anxiety, stress, or other mental or nervous conditions
  • Conditions that have resulted in behavioural issues
Tick Travel InsuranceYou will not be covered for claims if you or any insured person on your policy has in the last five (5) years suffered from or received medical advice, treatment or medication for:

  • Any psychiatric or psychological condition (including anxiety or depression)
Travel Insurance DirectThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from any mental illness as defined by DSM-IV including but not limited to:

  • Dementia, depression, anxiety, stress or other nervous condition
  • Behavioural diagnoses such as autism
  • Eating disorders
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
travel insurance saver logoThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from any mental illness including:

  • Dementia, depression, anxiety, panic attack, stress, bipolar, mania, schizophrenia or other nervous disorder
TravelInsuranzThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from your mental illness as defined by DSMIV including but not limited to:

  • Dementia, depression, anxiety, stress or other nervous condition
  • Behavioural diagnoses such as autism
  • Eating disorders
  • Drug or alcohol addition
Virgin MoneyThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from mental illness including:

  • Dementia, depression, anxiety, stress or other mental or nervous condition
  • Conditions that have resulted in behavioural issues
  • A therapeutic or illicit drug or alcohol addiction
WoolworthsThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from or is in any way related to:

  • Depression, anxiety, stress, mental or nervous conditions
worldcare travel insurance logoThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from or is in any way related to any mental illness as defined by DSM-IV including:

  • Dementia, depression, anxiety, stress, or other nervious conditions
  • Behavioural diagnoses such as but not limited to autism
  • A therapeutic or illicit drug or alcohol addiction.
youGoGenerally, there is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from:

  • Your anxiety, depression or mental or nervous disorders.
  • However, youGo will offer travel insurance for mental illness in some cases. If you're approved for cover this exclusion will be waived when cover is separately applied for by you in respect of your condition(s). You will have to pay the appropriate additional amount agreed to by you and youGo.

Important: Please note that the information contained in the table above about travel insurance for mental illness is correct as of 19/11/2015 and is subject to change.

What are pre-existing medical conditions?

For the purposes of travel insurance policies, a pre-existing medical condition might typically be defined as any medical condition that you are aware of and are taking medication for or have had treatment for in the past, including surgery. Many travel insurers have a list of pre-existing conditions they automatically cover. These conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, might generally be seen as "manageable" and perceived as a low risk to the insurer. Some forms of mental illness such as anxiety and depression may be listed in the product disclosure statement (PDS) as a condition that requires further assessment prior to the issue of a policy. In these cases you may be able to obtain cover by undergoing assessment and paying an additional premium. Insurers might also have a list of pre-existing conditions not covered under any circumstances. Unfortunately, mental illnesses may commonly feature on this list or in the general exclusions. If you’re looking for travel insurance for mental illness, one of the first places you might check is the PDS of different products or insurers, where the conditions relating to pre-existing medical conditions can often be found.

Australian counselling services for people suffering from mental illness

If you’d like some help or advice, whether insurance-related or otherwise, the following is a list of potentially useful links to organisations who may specialise in providing support to those dealing with mental illness.

  • Beyondblue. Beyondblue provides 24/7 support and information regarding depression and anxiety. Phone: 1300 22 4636 website: beyondblue.org.au
  • Mental Health Australia. Mental Health Australia an organisation that strives for better mental health for all Australians through education and affecting reform. Phone: (02) 6285 3100 website: https://mhaustralia.org/
  • MindHealthConnect. MindHealthConnect features mental health resources, info and online programs. Website: mindhealthconnect.org.au
  • Mental Health Council of Australia. Mental Health Council of Australia is an independent body that advises on mental health in Australia. Website: mhca.org.au
  • SANE Australia. SANE is a national charity helping people affected by mental illness. Website: www.sane.org
  • ReachOut Pro. ReachOut Pro provides information about mental health and advice to professionals. Website: reachoutpro.com.au
  • Black Dog Institute. Black Dog Institute provides information on depression and bipolar disorder. Website: blackdoginstitute.org.au
  • BlueBoard. BlueBoard is an online support group for people affected by depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders. Website: blueboard.anu.edu.au
  • e-couch. e-couch is a self-help interactive mental health program. Website: ecouch.anu.edu.au
  • Headspace. Headspace provides info, support and advice for young people. Website: headspace.org.au
  • Mental health online. Mental health online offers info on anxiety disorders, free automated psychological assessment and self-help treatment programs. Website: mentalhealthonline.org.au
  • MoodGYM. MoodGYM is an interactive program incorporating cognitive behaviour therapy for depression. Website: moodgym.anu.edu.au
  • Partners In Depression. Partners In Depression provides information and support for people supporting someone experiencing depression. Website: partnersindepression.com.au

Note: Except where may be stated otherwise, finder.com.au is not affiliated with any of the above organisations and the presence of this list should not be taken as an endorsement of any of these organisations or their work.

Picture: Pictures of Money, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped) Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the insurance editor at finder.com.au. He is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    GABRIELLEJune 26, 2017

    What does it mean if you cannot get insurance on pre- existing conditions?

    • Staff
      JhezelynJune 27, 2017Staff

      Hi Gabrielle,

      Thanks for your comment.

      A pre-existing condition is a medical condition that started before a person’s health benefits went into effect. Most insurance policies does not cover pre-existing medical condition.

      Having a pre-existing medical condition doesn’t mean you can’t get an insurance or have to fork out more cash. It just means you have to look a little harder for the right policy.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  2. Default Gravatar
    LeanneFebruary 1, 2017

    I am travelling to france on the 19th april 2017 for 7 weeks with my parents.I am 43 and have Schizophrenia and are on medication.I have not been admitted to hospital since 2009 and see my Psychiatrist every 6to8 weeks.can I get travel insurance to cover me for this .I will be travelling with my parents.

    • Staff
      RichardFebruary 2, 2017Staff

      Hi Leanne,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Getting cover for mental illness can be tricky. Please review the brands mentioned at the top of the article. Cover varies from person to person and insurer to insurer.

      Cheers,
      Richard

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