National

Aust travel insurers’ mental health change

By AAP Newswire

Australian travel insurance companies sold more than 365,000 policies discriminating against people with mental health problems last year, a human rights watchdog probe reveals.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission released a report on Wednesday uncovering several Australian insurers using terms discriminating against people with mental health conditions and sold more than 365,000 policies in eight months.

"Being able to access insurance equitably is an important part of travelling," Commissioner Kristen Hilton said.

"We found that for many people with mental health conditions, travel insurance was either not available or could not be claimed."

Three companies which make up about 37 per cent of the nation's travel insurance industry - Allianz, Suncorp and World Nomads Group - had been among in the mix.

"Their policies included a blanket exclusion, which meant that people who experienced mental health conditions weren't covered. They also didn't adequately recognise different types of mental health conditions and their risk or severity," Ms Hilton said.

Under the Equal Opportunity Act there is an exception which might have allowed insurers to limit insurance if they had adequate statistical data or reasons to support their approach - but they were not able to explain such during the investigation.

All of the insurers who were part of the report have already removed, or taken steps to remove, blanket mental health exclusions from their travel insurance policies, the commission states.

They have also agreed to work on the Commission's recommendations, including the way they offer and indemnify pre-existing mental health conditions.