Gen Re develops a prototype for mental health insurance

By William Girling
Life, health and P&C reinsurer Gen Re has announced the development of a new product designed to take on the growing issue of poor mental health...

Life, health and P&C reinsurer Gen Re has announced the development of a new product designed to take on the growing issue of poor mental health.

The company, which currently manages US$11bn in premiums and $14.8bn in capital, has chosen to focus on the South African market for its prototype, a country where over 25% of disability claims over the last five years have been related to mental health. In fact, it has actually become one of the leading overall causes of disability.

An unprecedented rise

Given that strains on employee mental health are being aggravated globally by the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be argued that Gen Re’s innovations have come at just the right time.

In its article ‘Mental health in the workplace: The coming revolution’, McKinsey & Co’s research found that suicide is currently the tenth most common cause of mortality in the US. 60% of those who do so generally had an underlying mood disorder, and further analysis indicates that the pandemic could result in a 50% increase in behavioural health conditions.

The mental health crisis has taken on truly global proportions. Therefore, it could be argued, the onus to address this unprecedented statistical rise in the best way possible rests with both employers and insurance companies. 

Continuous underwriting

Gen Re states that it has rooted its new product in “behavioural economics research”. In effect, customers are able to directly impact the underwriting decisions that underpin their policy. 

This model, called ‘continuous underwriting’, would allow policyholder cover to change as their health itself changes.

“Research has shown that proactive and early intervention adopting the biopsychosocial approach across the mental health spectrum is a potential gamechanger,” stated Thea Weyers, Senior Underwriter at Gen Re’s Cape Town branch. 

“The focus is on keeping people well, intervening quickly when a change is triggered and working hard at the in-claim stage with structured rehabilitation, supported with tool sets, such as our Gen Re-developed Depression Tool. 

“Initial feedback from our recent CONNECT client event has been overwhelmingly positive and we are excited about working together with our clients to meet the specific needs of their customers,” she said.


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