What does psychiatric or mental health cover refer to on your private medical insurance policy?

If you have Private Medical Insurance, your insurer may offer you the option to cover psychiatric or mental health claims. Some insurers include this as part of their core cover, however some offer no cover for claims of this type at all. The majority will offer this as an optional benefit.

When you buy a private medical insurance policy, mental health cover is certainly worth thinking about because we never know what the future holds.  Not everyone wants to have cover for psychiatric claims but if you have close family members who suffer with mental health issues then it could be worth considering.

Claims for psychiatric conditions are generally expensive,  because of this, if you want to have this cover included your premium will increase. Insurers could offer a specific monetary limit for these claims or provide the limit in days.  28 or 45 days cover are quite common.  There are even insurers in the UK who have no yearly limit on specialist fees for psychiatric treatment.

The same rules apply to psychiatric claims as with any other. They must be acute medical conditions and not deemed as chronic. As psychiatric illness is complex to treat, it could be that your insurer agrees to pre-authorise your initial treatment.  If your condition becomes chronic and does not respond to treatment,  cover can be withdrawn.

Your insurer will notify you and provide reasonable notice before withdrawing cover.

Conditions such as clinical depression and schizophrenia would be covered under the psychiatric or mental health benefit option.

Is psychiatric cover only available as an in-patient?

No, it can be covered as an out-patient, day-patient or in-patient. The treatment you need will depend on the severity of your condition. Many insurers also offer telephone and face to face counselling on a remote basis. This gives you rapid access to help when you need it most.

Can you add psychiatric/ mental health cover mid-term to your policy?

You cannot make changes of this type mid-term.  If you want to add psychiatric cover to your existing policy this can only be done at your renewal date. Any request to increase your benefits will be subject to underwriting approval. They will ask you a number of medical questions because they will need to assess the risk. This will be done prior to offering you cover for claims relating to mental health.

What is not covered under the general exclusions of your policy?

Even if you have cover for mental illness and psychiatric conditions, the general exclusions for your policy would still apply.

This means that cover for certain conditions will not be available such as:

  • Injuries inflicted on yourself deliberately
  • Attempted suicide
  • Alcohol abuse*
  • Drug or substance abuse*
  • Conditions that are chronic

*Bupa have now increased their mental Health cover and will include cover for addiction. Terms and conditions apply.

If you suffer with mild stress related issues, there is normally a 24/7 helpline which can offer counselling assistance. This benefit is predominantly part of the core cover from providers and this should not be confused with the optional mental health/ psychiatric benefits available. Having easy access to telephone counselling is important because it could prevent your condition from getting worse.

Would you like our help in finding a policy that will cover you and your family for psychiatric conditions? Can we help you understand the cover you currently have in place? Our team have many years experience in the Health Insurance market and can help you access great cover first time.

For more information please contact us on 01245 929129 or by email enquiries@smphealthcare.com