Majority of Australian travellers who experience anxiety keep it secret from their travel insurer, leaving them potentially exposed to exorbitant medical bills they incur overseas.
A new study by Comparetravelinsurance.com.au revealed that roughly one in five Australians experience symptoms of anxiety and that 76% of travellers wouldn’t declare their anxiety to their travel insurer. Nearly 22% of the figure cited keeping premiums down as a reason for non-disclosure, while a further 54% didn’t think it was “necessary to disclose.”
Insurance experts warned, however, that failing to declare pre-existing conditions could invalidate travellers’ overseas medical coverage. Those with anxiety may now find it easier to access travel insurance, as more insurers are offering mental health cover by assessment, including QBE, NRMA, CoverMore, InsureandGo, and Insure4Less.
“In the past, most insurers wouldn’t cover conditions such as anxiety, placing blanket exclusions on all mental illnesses,” said Natalie Ball, director at Comparetravelinsurance.com.au. “However, the market is finally coming around to the vast number of the population living with mental health diseases. Seventy per cent of travel insurers now offer some sort of mental illness cover by assessment and travellers should take steps to research their options.”
Ball said travel insurers are “increasingly recognising the need to overcome the stigma attached to mental illness” and are evolving their policies to reflect a more modern approach to mental health with the help of advanced medical screening processes.
“Insurance policies are risk-based products and lots of variables are considered when covering pre-existing illnesses,” Ball said. “For example, each insurer will have a different definition of anxiety. Some will consider it a pre-existing condition if you’ve ever suffered from it, while others will only take into account whether you have recently received treatment. Cover will also depend on your destination, as medical costs can vary greatly around the world.”
Ball also noted that “improved technology and greater data insights have enabled insurers to better analyse their risks” leading to a “gradual shift towards a more nuanced approach to mental health cover.”