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Shine Lawyers | Mental health in your hands

Growing crisis of mental health issues needs to be addressed by insurance industry

Every day millions of Australians battle a hidden health crisis that the superannuation and insurance industry is failing to address. Mental health disorders are invisible to the eye, therefore the suffering is hard to quantify or qualify under the current insurance regime.

It means a growing number of people are having to battle their insurers in order to have their illnesses recognised and their Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) mental health claims through their superannuation approved.

It leaves many struggling to prove they are eligible for support or payments that they may be legally entitled to.

Can you make an insurance claim for mental health issues?

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, employees with a mental illness have the same rights and responsibilities as any other worker.

Mental illness is covered in many insurance policies so you may be eligible for financial support to access medical services and assistance as part of your recovery. You may also be eligible for a TPD payment if you are unable to return to work.

Will Barsby, National Special Counsel of the Superannuation and Federal Compensation Law practices at Shine Lawyers is calling on super funds, trustees and insurers to re-examine the way these claims are dealt with in the industry.

“The process for lodging mental health claims should not be drawn out, you simply shouldn’t have excessive wait times for something you are paying for in your monthly premiums,” said Mr. Barsby.

“We are dealing with serious human consequences in this space, including a high risk of suicide. Once payment processes are approved they need to be processed far more quickly," says Mr Barsby.

The Royal Commission Report’s recommendations for the Insurance Sector

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s final report into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, released in February 2019, makes some recommendations for the insurance sector.

The changes would bring life and general insurance closer in alignment with the financial services sector, which is much more regulated. Claims handling would then be classified as a “financial service” under the Corporations Act and require insurers to tackle claims – including TPD claims for mental health - “efficiently, honestly and fairly”.

The changes would increase regulation by allowing ASIC to intervene.

How Shine Can Help

If you’ve suffered physical or mental injury or illness and can no longer do the work you once could, you may be entitled to a TPD Insurance benefit.

Shine Lawyers work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis so if you’d like to make a claim or simply request more information you can contact us.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: March 15, 2019.

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