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 most 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 currently offer travel insurance for mental illness.

Who covers mental illness?

Most 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:

  • 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 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.
  • Cover-More. Cover-More cover some forms of mental illness but a mental health assessment is required and a higher premium may be payable if you’re granted cover.
  • 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 charge a higher premium, due to the higher perceived risk they are assuming. But no two premiums are the same and how much you pay will 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.
CoverMoreGenerally, there is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from:

  • Anxiety, depression or mental or nervous disorders.
  • However, Cover-More do 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 Cover-More.
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 InsuranceThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from:

  • Suicide, mental illness or depression
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)
iTrekThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from or is in any way related to:

  • Depression, anxiety, stress, mental or nervous conditions
simplytravelinsuranceThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from or is in any way related to:

  • Depression, anxiety, stress, mental or nervous conditions
Skiinsurance.com.auThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from or is in any way related to:

  • Depression, anxiety, stress, mental or nervous conditions
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 InsuranceThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from, or is in any way connected with:

  • Your depression, dementia, anxiety, stress, mental or nervous conditions
  • STA do offer travel insurance for mental illness in some cases. However you must have agreed in writing to provide cover as set out in your Medical Terms of Cover letter and you have paid any additional premium that applies.
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 SaverThere 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 InsuranceThere is no cover for claims arising directly or indirectly from or is in any way related to:

  • Depression, anxiety, stress, mental or nervous conditions
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.

What are pre-existing medical conditions?

A pre-existing medical condition is any medical condition that you are aware of and are taking medication for or have had treatment for in the past, including surgery. Most insurers have a list of pre-existing conditions they automatically cover. These conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, are generally 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 also have a list of conditions not covered under any circumstances.

Unfortunately, mental illness features all too often on this list or in the general exclusions. If you’re looking for travel insurance for mental illness, the first place to head is the PDS, where the conditions relating to pre-existing medical conditions can be found.

First episode overseas

While there are a handful of insurers that cover some types of mental illness, one of the biggest financial risks travellers face is lack of cover for first-time episodes, where mental illness has never been previously experienced. This recent case study demonstrates how costly that can be. Susan B was on a gap year holiday in Europe when she suffered an episode triggered by a violent assault that she witnessed. She was unable to continue her holiday due to her condition and when she sought help from a doctor in France, she was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

When Susan contacted her travel insurer to seek reimbursement for several thousand dollars she had lost due to curtailed travel arrangements, they told her she was not covered for mental illness. Susan had read the PDS before purchasing her insurance and had noted they did cover mental illness, but she was unaware that this was only for known conditions that were declared and approved and not for first-time episodes.

Important: Please not 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. Be sure to contact the relevant travel insurance brand to discuss your options before making any decisions.

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 useful links to organisations who 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

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

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Ask a Question

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Disclaimer: At finder.com.au we provide factual information and general advice. Before you make any decision about a product read the Product Disclosure Statement and consider your own circumstances to decide whether it is appropriate for you.
Rates and fees mentioned in comments are correct at the time of publication.
By submitting this question you agree to the finder.com.au privacy policy, receive follow up emails related to finder.com.au and to create a user account where further replies to your questions will be sent.

Ask a question
feedback