The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has issued draft guidance to ensure people with disabilities get fair treatment from life and disability insurers.
The consultation, The Life and Disability Insurer’s Guide to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
, will consolidate insurers’ experience and best practices which have emerged since the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (the Act).
The basic principle in the guide is that insurers should provide disabled people with as much cover and on the same terms as non-disabled people wherever possible.
Insurers should only offer less favourable terms or, as a last resort, decline cover if there is a lawful reason, based on relevant and reliable information, to do so.
Around ten per cent of people meet the definition of disability in the Act, accounting for £40bn in spending power. For this reason, the ABI believes insurers have an opportunity to do more business with disabled people if a more positive approach is taken.
The ABI draft guidance deals with underwriting decisions, charging higher premiums and requirements for declining cover, among other issues.
Insurers, intermediaries and disability support groups have welcomed the ABI’s move to involve them in the consultation period.
The ABI aims to publish the completed guide later this summer.
ABI Disability Discrimination Act Working Party chairman Nick Kirwan said: “This initiative benefits everyone, not just disabled customers. We want to encourage insurers to go that extra mile by adopting a best practice approach.”
Independent financial adviser Ruth Whitehead, of London-based Ruth Whitehead Associates, said: “I think insurance companies hedge their bets in their own favour exclusively and extensively. There are all sorts of health issues that the insurance industry discriminates against. I welcome this dialogue and the fact that other voices are being heard.”