A look back on Mental Health in Life Insurance week

Paper cut out of a head with various mental health terms

 Over the last decade, the UK, along with the insurance industry, has experienced an increased focus on awareness and treatment of mental health conditions. The pandemic has further focused the national conversation around mental health which has been encouraging. This is beginning to break down some of the barriers and stigmas surrounding those living with mental health conditions. The industry has been giving considerable thought to the challenges surrounding mental health in recent years and we have seen some really great examples of insurers putting customer needs first in this area.

The IFoA Mental Health Working Party’s aims include:

  • Raise the level of understanding and awareness of mental health amongst actuaries and insurance professionals.
  • Promote the consideration of mental health issues in the design of products and processes in actuarial work; and
  • Collate and disseminate the latest thinking and research on mental health risk factors, and the wider impact of mental health on morbidity and mortality.

As part of this work, the working party have created a series of blogs, podcasts and webinar content with the aim of highlighting the issues and encouraging actuaries and other industry professionals to consider whether we are doing all we can to best serve our customers. To aid this effort the working party have also generated a mind map tool as an aid for teams to consider the various areas of their processes and how they relate to Mental Health which is available below to download and use.

The themes of the week have taken a different area of the product lifecycle. Each day saw a new episode of The Protection Podcast hosted by working party member and Cura Financial Services Managing Director Kathryn Knowles alongside some engaging blogs on the topics.

Monday – triggers for purchasing insurance

Johnny Timpson OBE, Financial Services Consumer Panel Member and Financial Inclusion Commissioner kicked off the blog series with a discussion of some of the typical triggers for an individual choosing to purchase insurance. This also covered the potential that these events themselves have to impact our mental health and wellbeing. Johnny also looks at some examples of what the industry are already doing in this space and what insurers could focus on next. Over on the podcast Finance Expert and founder of Miss MummyPenny Lyn Beattie talks about how it can feel to apply for insurance and how this relates to mental health.

Tuesday – Routes to insurance

Jeff Woods considered the different channels available to customers when purchasing insurance and highlights some of the benefits. These areas were brought to life on the podcast when Kathryn is joined by Alan Knowles Cura Managing Director, Phil Jeynes Director Of Corporate Strategy at Reassured and Neal Cross Senior Manager in the Commercial Insurance team at MoneySupermarket to discuss the pros and cons of the various channels and ways in which signposting between channels can help individuals best meet their needs when discussing their mental health. 

Wednesday – products and underwriting

Fraser Ballantine, Underwriting Quality & Risk Manager at Zurich, talked about the considerations and developments in underwriting mental health conditions. He also joined Lisa Balboa, Business Development Actuary at Hannover Re on the Podcast to discuss the data available to the industry currently and what they hope to see going forward. They considered how much of an insurers “standard rates” will have allowed for given mental health conditions given their prevalence in the population and looked forward to a future where positive factors can also be included in the underwriting of an individual to better reflect their personal risk.

Thursday – Claims

Our claims focus saw two guest blogs. Firstly from Vanessa Swallows, Claims & Governance Director at Legal & General Group Protection where she talked about mental health touchpoints during the claims journey and the early intervention opportunity for individual income protection. Secondly from Monica Garcia, Disability Insurance and Workplace Wellbeing Consultant with a focus on disability insurance claims and considered the importance of bio-psycho-social factors, the role of rehabilitation and return-to-work support as well as the role of the workplace. Vanessa and Monica also joined Kathryn to discuss these areas in more detail in an engaging informal format.

Friday – What next for Mental Health in insurance

The week has drawn to a close with a webinar hosted by John Brazier of COVER magazine where Lisa Balboa, Fraser Ballantine and Kathryn Knowles brought together the Actuarial, Underwriting and Adviser perspective on how our industry can move forward in our aims.

Please challenge yourself to take a step through the mind map and ask whether there are any areas in which you have influence where there is scope for improvement, however incremental, in the hope that the industry can continue to take positive steps in this direction over the next year.

Find the whole series of podcasts at on The Practical Protection Podcast