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Travel Insurance Companies Exposed For Mental Health Discrimination

Travel insurance companies exposed for mental health discrimination

A number of major travel insurance companies have been forced to change their policies, after an investigation found they unlawfully discriminated against people with mental health conditions.

The investigation was carried out by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, which found that 365,000 policies sold by companies including Suncorp, Allianz and Nib-owned World Nomads Group were sold with discriminating terms related to mental health conditions.

“All three party insurers unlawfully discriminated,” the Commission said.

“During the investigation period Allianz, Suncorp and WNG had a legal obligation under the Equal Opportunity Act to not discriminate against people with a mental health condition in the provision of travel insurance.”

Mental health exclusions removed

As a result of the investigation, all three companies have promised to change their policies by removing mental health exclusions.

World Nomads Group which has recently re-branded as Nib Travel said in a statement:

“Over the course of the following months travellers (with an Nib Travel policy purchased in Australia or New Zealand) who first develop a mental health condition after they purchase a travel insurance policy may be covered for policy benefits. 

“Travellers with pre-existing mental health conditions may also be covered for claims arising from mental health conditions provided they otherwise satisfy the other underwriting criteria.”

Nib Travel Insurance says people with mental health conditions will now be covered by its polices.

Suncorp removed blanket exemptions from all its travel policies last year.

“Further, we now also provide coverage for pre-existing conditions under our Apia, Vero, Suncorp and GIO policies,” a spokesman said.

“With about one per cent share of the travel insurance market, the number of Suncorp claims declined for mental health conditions was very small.”

Zurich-Cover-More, the other non-party insurer in the probe, removed the exclusions in June 2017.

Not all mental health conditions are the same

Social justice advocate Miles Heffernan, from Harassment Claims, welcomed the changes.

“As everyone knows, not all mental health conditions are the same – so to have a blanket ban on everyone with a mental health issue was completely discriminatory and unfair,” he said.

“I’d like to congratulate the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission for its excellent work, and its thorough investigation, and for forcing change which will see a fairer travel insurance system for people with mental health conditions.”

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