September 27th through to October 3rd is Mental Health Awareness month. While 40% of New Zealanders suffer a mental health issue in their lifetime and a third have private health insurance, little is known about health insurer’s coverage of mental health conditions and their treatment.

In light of mental health awareness week, we wanted to look at the different policy wordings around mental health treatment and the benefits.

About Mental Health Awareness Week:

MHAW is run annually by the Mental Health Foundation and has been since 1993. This year’s theme is to take time to kōrero/mā te kōrero, ka ora – a little chat can go a long way. This MHAW is all about connecting with the people in our lives and creating space for conversations about mental health and well-being. Whether it’s checking in with a mate, having a kōrero over some kai or saying hello to a stranger, a little chat can go a long way.

Policy Wordings:

Most New Zealand insurers offer some support in their policy wordings for people who have a mental illness. However, it is important to read the policy wordings closely. Let’s look at a few NZ insurers and what cover they offer for mental illness.

Fidelity Life:

  • Trauma cover pays a lump sum if you suffer a specified condition, including neurological disorders such as dementia and multiple sclerosis. Suffering a trauma may mean you can’t work, or you may have to meet high medical costs, in which case you won’t have to suffer financial trauma too.
  • Income replacement cover can pay you up to 75% of your income for a certain period if you’re unable to work due to a severe illness or injury. This includes neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease or Alzheimer’s Disease and mental disorders such as depression. What’s more, where appropriate, they offer benefits to assist you in getting back to work.

Acurro

Accuro offers customers a tool called Best Doctors Mental Health navigator, which we have discussed in more detail. To use Mental Health Navigator, you will need to have an Accuro Hospital and Surgical plan with the Specialist add Tests optional plan and be over 18 years of age.

AIA

AIA offer a science-backed program that is designed to help you in your total well-being.

AIA Vitality is a science-backed health and well-being program that supports you to make healthier lifestyle choices every day.

It shows you how healthy you are now, provides you with tools to start improving your health right away, and offers amazing rewards and discounts from our partners to keep you motivated along your journey.

AIA’s underwriting approach to mental health disclosures for Income Replacement cover improvements have been made via its online platform AIAHub. These changes include an expanded set of questions to understand better the nature and severity of any mental health conditions being disclosed and provide straight-through processing in some circumstances. Across the market, mental illness is considered a disclosure that requires independent, third-party information such as a doctor’s report to ensure it can be accurately underwritten due to its subjective or changing nature, which makes it difficult to assess. AIA NZ customers now have the chance to share their personal experiences and allow underwriters only to become more involved in those cases that require further consideration.

NIB

  • NIB offers its members a mental health waiver. It allows you to upgrade your Hospital cover and waive the standard two month waiting period to access full benefits for in-hospital psychiatric treatment. This waiver is only available to you if you have held hospital cover with NIB for at least the previous two months and you have not previously used your waiver or any other fund.
  • From April 1st 2020, to December 31st 2021, all NIB members with Extra cover will be covered for psychology up to a limit of $300 at no additional cost.

If you want to know more about what benefits or exclusions your cover has regarding mental health, please get in touch with one of our advisers. Your mental health is important, and it is great to see more New Zealand providers offering support for those who need it.