DAD-OF-FOUR Jonathan Halstead has slammed insurance firm LV= for “utterly disgusting discrimination” after the company rejected him for life insurance.
He was told his application was being rejected because he suffers with depression, even though he says he recovered over two years ago.
Kennedy News and Media Father-of-four Jonathan Halstead has slammed an insurance firm for rejecting a life insurance claim for depression, even though he recovered more than two years ago
The 40-year-old printer from West Yorkshire was first diagnosed in 2013 when he was made redundant, then the condition briefly returned in 2017 when his mum passed away.
He soon recovered and says he has never had a day off work due to his illness.
Last month, Jonathan and his wife Zoe, 42, applied for life insurance cover with LV=.
How to increase your chances of getting life insurance cover if you have mental health issuesEVEN though some insurers might reject an application there are things you can do to increase the chances of a claim being accepted.
Research different insurance providers. Most should tell you what their policies are for mental health issues and pre-existing conditions.
Declare your conditions. Don’t be tempted to lie on your forms or you could invalidate your insurance. Most insurers will speak to your GP anyway.
Ask your GP or psychiatrist to provide a report that explains your condition in more detail, this gives the insurance company the most up-to-date and accurate information about your mental health.
Try a specialist provider that specifically covers pre-existing medical conditions such as mental health issues. These include Active Minds insurance, Allclear Travel, Free Spirit and Orbis insurance.
Rachel Wait, consumer affairs spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket says: “The key is to always be as honest as possible when applying for life insurance, and disclose any previous illnesses or mental health conditions.
“You may find some insurers refuse you outright, while others exclude the condition itself (and therefore won’t pay out if your death was related to that).
“There are also a number of specialist insurers that will offer life insurance to those with pre-existing conditions.
“You may find you have to pay a higher premium, but it will ensure that when a claim is made, your policy pays out.”
But last week, he received a letter telling him his application was being rejected because of “recurrent episodes of depression”.
Jonathan has his hit back at the insurance provider saying the rejection is “discrimination at its finest”.
He said: “This is utterly disgusting. These companies need exposing.
“I feel discriminated against. They are going against me because of my past depression.
“I think it’s quite shocking… The reason they gave is ‘recurrent depression’ which baffles me because a relative has heart problems and he has life insurance.
“In this day and age, depression is quite common. It’s a big issue.
Kennedy News and Media The insurer rejected Jonathan Halstead’s claim due to “recurrent episodes of depression”
“I haven’t been depressed for two years. Everything is fine now. It wasn’t a prolonged thing.”
When Jonathan received the letter rejecting him, Zoe contacted LV= to withdraw her own application ‘in disgust’.
He believes a “cry for help” overdose attempt 15 years ago, which he says was not a suicide attempt, is making the company think he may kill himself now.
He said: “They are trying to say I may take my own life after 12 months which is ludicrous. I’m married and happy now. I wouldn’t leave my children without a father.
“As far as I was aware everything was going through until I got a letter saying they couldn’t offer cover.
“I had two bouts of depression – one was when the company I worked for went into liquidation. I was out of work for three or four months around 2013 and I fell into depression.
Kennedy News and Media Jonathan was first diagnosed after a period without work, and then again after his mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer
“The next time was in 2017 when my mum was diagnosed with cancer. I was on my honeymoon in the August and when we got back they said she had only three months to live.
“I went from the jubilation of getting married to absolute devastation. It hit me like a bomb. It was a really hard time.
“The insurance [underwriters] went to the doctors and asked for the records. It’s on there when I got the [anti-depressant] tablets. I was given those and I was on them for just four months.
“I was never in a suicidal state at that point – but if I was, they wouldn’t pay out anyway.
“I did have an overdose attempt around 15 years ago, but that was a cry for help. It wasn’t a suicide attempt.”
Kennedy News and Media Jonathan says that the rejection of his claim is “discrimination at its finest”
One in four people in the UK suffer with a mental health issue in their lifetime, meaning that many of us could find that we’re either not eligible for life insurance or that we have to pay substantially more for the cover.
In fact, a history of mental health issues can see premiums rise by as much as 2000 per cent, as applicants are considered to be “high risk”.
Mental health charity Mind said that it was clear people with mental health issues are still suffering discrimination.
Michael Henson-Webb, head of legal at Mind said: “It is clear from people’s experiences that some insurers are operating with a total lack of transparency.
“That so many people seem none the wiser as to why they have been declined insurance means they aren’t being given information about how decisions have been made.
How to bring down the cost of life insuranceLIFE and travel insurance premiums for people with a history of mental health issues in the past five years can be as much as 50 per cent higher. Here’s how to keep costs low.
Shop around to get a few quotes from different providers, so you can compare and find what’s cheapest.
Use a comparison website such as gocompare.com or moneysupermarket.com to look at different costs.
Also check the list of insurance companies on the Association of British Insurers (ABI) or British Insurance Brokers’ Association’s websites for providers that may not be listed by comparison websites
Check if you can get basic health or life insurance cover at work, or travel/car insurance with your bank or credit card provider
“Public attitudes to mental health have come a long way in the last decade but it is clear that there are still areas where people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination.”
Jonathan is now demanding a thorough explanation from LV= on why they declined his application and believes more should be done to prevent customers being discriminated against due to mental illness.
He said: “It’s quite scary when you think about something happening to you in the future.
“It’s not right to refuse someone with depression, or who has had depression.
“One in four people in the UK have suffered depression at one stage in their lives. It’s discrimination at its finest.”
“I find it quite sad for people who are suffering now because they’ll get the same treatment.”
Kennedy News and Media Dad-of-four Jonathan is demanding a thorough explanation from LV= as to why his claim was rejected
LV= says the decision to reject Jonathan’s applications was made based on a medical report from his doctor.
But Jonathan says he was honest about his mental health issues on his application and declared all of the instances / history with depression in full.
It is important that anyone with a pre-existing medical condition – including a history of mental health issues – declares it to the insurer.
While you run the risk of higher premiums or being rejected, failing to be transparent can mean that any insurance is invalidated and you can even face prosecution.
Matthew Sanders, from GoCompare Life Insurance, said: “Whatever you do, make sure that the answers you give to insurers are honest and accurate.
“If you make a fraudulent declaration, any policy you take out is likely to be invalid and will mean you’ve broken the law and could see any claim you make rejected.
“If you do have an existing medical condition, the impact on your search for life insurance will depend on its severity and your individual circumstances.
“The Equality Act 2010 also outlines if you have a condition which is considered curable or manageable, it may be against the law to charge you more for life insurance because of it.”
Kennedy News and Media Jonathan says he has never taken a day off work because of his depression
A spokeperson from LV= said: “We are sorry that Mr Halstead is unhappy with the decision we made regarding his life insurance application.
“The decision to decline Mr Halstead’s application was reached after reviewing a report provided by his GP.
“We have contacted Mr Halstead to offer him the opportunity to discuss our decision further. However, if he prefers we can write to his GP explaining how we made our decision based on the report we received.
“At LV= insurance, applications are always considered on an individual basis.
“Between 10 and 15 per cent of people who apply to us for protection insurance disclose a mental health condition and over 90 per cent of those who apply for life insurance and tell us about a mental health condition are accepted and covered on our standard rates.
“It is common for insurers to apply exclusions around what they do and don’t cover for customers with existing or historic mental health conditions.
“At LV= we are the only life insurance provider to offer automatic reviews of these exclusions so they can be removed for people who have shown no symptoms after one, two or three years.”
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