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Inclusivity: How can Insurers Lower Barriers to Access for Those with Mental Health Challenges?

April 5, 2021

Insurance can be daunting, from quotes to claims, and insurers need to work to make the process more accessible for the huge numbers of people experiencing mental health conditions says Ellen Kay, UK Product Manager at Duck Creek, in the third in a trio of vlogs exploring industry inclusivity.

Mental health support has greatly improved

Society’s approach to mental health has improved dramatically in recent years, while the pandemic is shining a light on the issue. This is vital, because, statistically speaking, either we or someone we know will have experienced a mental health condition.

We now have a better vocabulary and a greater understanding to understand mental health experiences, why they happen to us, and how to get the help and support we need.

“It’s no surprise that in the past year especially the discussion around mental health has escalated, and the insurance industry has begun to look at the interconnectedness of mental health and the requirements for insurance,” she says.

One in six experience mental health issues weekly during the pandemic

She noted figures during the pandemic that one in six people are experiencing mental health conditions each week, while 86% of people reporting mental health issues lack the right information and assistance to get the right insurance protection to support them.

“Data shows us that access to insurance is impacted by mental health,” Kay says. “In some cases, like life insurance, it can be daunting to disclose one’s history. In other cases, such as personal lines, there are other hurdles to consider – like complexity.”

The Association of British Insurers has worked with Mental Health UK to provide deliverables towards mental health inclusivity and accessibility for insurers, to be implemented in 2021.

Call for better support for mental health in insurance life cycle

“These standards give clear guidance on how to support customers with mental health issues during the entire insurance life cycle. The importance is on improving access, supporting the application process, and communicating decisions with empathy, as well as increasing the transparency regarding those decisions,” she says.

The quality of customer interaction is at the heart of this, Kay explains.

“Barriers in access include lack of knowledge and understanding about insurance products and lack of understanding about what they’re choosing. Cognitive overload with the amount of information that must be consumed and understood in a quotation or claims process is also an issue, with or without a mental health consideration,” says Kay.

“The application process itself is daunting just with the input of personal and sensitive information, but for people with ongoing mental health, the question is, how might technology allow us to augment traditional application or claims processes?” she asks.

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Bart Patrick
Bart Patrick is Duck Creek's Managing Director for Europe. Specialising in digital insurance innovation, his prior roles include heading up insurance business strategy, technology, services and sales for companies such as TCS, SAP, Pega, and SAS – running P&Ls in excess of £25m and supporting staffing levels of more than 1000. In his most recent role as Director, Insurance EMEA at SAP, Patrick directed Insurance Innovation for the EMEA North region, helping insurers and insurtechs alike get the most from their investments in technology.