Mental health disclosures could cost you life insurance

Did you know that if you went to your doctor with concerns about your mental health, that information could later be used to deny you access to life insurance?

An Auckland woman says that's what's happened to her and since she shared her experience on Facebook, hundreds of other Kiwis have said it's happened to them too.

Having experienced mental health problems for many years, Taimi Allan now fights against discrimination.

Ms Allan says she was declined life insurance this week for being honest about her medical history.

"We don't expect for our basic human right to provide for our children to be taken away because of historical experiences or even present experiences," she told Newshub.

It's been 15 years since she was mentally unwell. 

She's happy to pay higher premiums or have exclusions in the policy, but won't accept outright denial.

Because insurers base their decisions on medical notes, it could impact anyone who has talked to their doctor about depression - even just once.

Ms Allan says this encourages people to keep things hidden and leaves many feeling ashamed, and it distorts figures that insurers rely on.

"The statistics would change, wouldn't they," she said.

"Because if so many people with this diagnosis had disclosed and insurers go, 'Well, they're not as greater risk as we thought they were'."

The Human Rights Act says while insurers can't refuse cover due to mental health conditions, they can alter policies such as exclusions, provided it's based on data.

The Financial Services Council says insurers don't discriminate against people with mental health conditions.

"As an industry, we aren't going to get it right 100 percent of the time, but our approach to dealing with mental illness has come a long way," it told Newshub in a statement.

Ms Allan isn't the only one facing this problem. Hundreds have commented online since she went public.

"I think I must just be the tip of the iceberg," she said.

Ms Allan plans to complain to the Ombudsman and wants laws strengthened to ensure no one else faces her predicament.

Newshub.

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