AIG Life enhances mental health underwriting
Monday 8 November 2021
AIG Life Limited has today announced improvements to its underwriting that make it quicker and easier for people who may have suffered with mental ill-health to buy protection insurance.
AIG Life UK has made a series of enhancements to its insurance application, process and rules as well as to the letters it sends to customer that go above and beyond the ABI Mental Health Standards being introduced this year.
They have improved terms which mean nine in 10 customers declaring a common mental health condition will get an immediate decision. Underwriting language is also simpler, more human and more customer-friendly.
The most significant changes mean better outcomes for customers who have in the past had a natural reaction to serious life events, such as bereavement. More people will now get standard rates as a result, including for income protection.
As a practical example: Mr A’s partner died six months ago, so he took four weeks off work to process his grief and to deal with the practicalities of his partner dying. He also had counselling to support him and a four-week course of anti-depressants. Under the improved underwriting process, AIG would offer to insure him for life insurance and income protection at standard rates.
Getting counselling and managing treatment is viewed as positive by AIG so no automatic ratings or exclusions are applied for being on treatment, even if this is ongoing. AIG will instead focus on the symptoms and the impact of these.
Underwriting terms have also been improved for customers who declare historic suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts or self-harm, and are treated differently depending on the situation. A new approach has been introduced towards historic and resolved severe mental health issues too, meaning more people can be insured.
More sensitive language
To create more customer-friendly language on the sensitive subject of mental health AIG worked with psychologists at global telehealth provider Teladoc Health. There are now two questions. The first asks about severe mental health which might have required a hospital stay, the second question is about general mental health conditions.
Jargon has also been reduced and wording upgraded to make it clearer:
- what the underwriting questions will be
- why AIG asks questions about physical and mental health, even when it might be a sensitive subject
- what the outcomes will be
- why the answers a customer gives sometimes mean AIG is unable to insure them, and
- there are different ways to contact AIG underwriting if they would rather not discuss a sensitive matter with their financial adviser.
Mental health is experienced differently by every individual. In situations where AIG can’t give an instant decision as a result of the underwriting questions asked, they will ask the customer to explain their mental health condition in their own words.
Underwriting letters have also been reviewed. They y explain the underwriting decision a customer has received, what AIG has looked at, where applicants can get more information and who they can speak to find out more.
Commenting on the changes, Helen Croft, Head of Underwriting Strategy at AIG Life, said:
“Mental health issues are the most common medical conditions people tell us about on insurance applications so our questions, language and the decisions we make should fairly match what people experience today. The changes we’ve made will make it easier for people with mental health conditions, currently or in the past, to get the insurance they need, and will hopefully improve consumer trust in insurers too.”