ABI Mental Health Standards

ABI Mental Health Standards

Chances are we all know someone who has been impacted by a mental health condition. With one in four adults (i) experiencing such a condition, it’s important that we recognise and build this into the way we do business.

In 2021, Aviva have implemented a number of changes, aligned to the ABI Mental Health Standards, that further improve the experience of purchasing insurance for those with a mental health condition.

What are the ABI Mental Health Standards?

The Mental Health Standards provide clear guidance to health, protection, and travel insurers in supporting the needs of individuals with prior or existing mental health conditions ​when they seek cover. 

The ABI and its members have engaged with mental health charities and campaigners to understand the needs of customers with a history of mental health conditions and recognise there are steps that can be taken to improve access to insurancehow questions are askedcommunications to customers and transparency of underwriting decisions.

Aviva have implemented the four standards: bringing practical benefits to you and your clients.

 Improving accessibility

  • We understand that not all clients want to be communicated to in the same way. At Aviva we offer clients the choice to contact us online, via the post or over the phone. Our teams are also available to help customers that may need additional support during the application process.
  • Our underwriting team receive training from experts; including doctors, to ensure they can communicate appropriately to customers with mental health conditions. 

Application process: asking appropriate questions​

  • For some people, applying for insurance products can be daunting.  That’s why we have introduced additional guidance into the application journey which clearly explains why we are asking the questions we ask, and how the information will be used. All our underwriting questions are written in clear and simple language and can be answered without medical knowledge. 
  • In recognition that all mental health conditions are not the same, our underwriting questions continue to only ask relevant questions related to your clients’ conditions. Our reflexive rules engine means we only ask questions which are relevant to the severity of the condition. 

Communicating decisions and cover: clarity and empathy

  • Mental health exclusions are clearly displayed in any policy documents and communications to our customers including within the online journey. If your client wants any additional information around an underwriting decision we’ve made, we’re happy to provide it on request. We’ve also worked with Onebright to make sure that our written and verbal communications remain appropriate and reflect current best practice.
  • Sometimes we need to direct customers to other services. As part of our vulnerable customer guidance, we provide signposting to appropriate services – this could be for specific needs or if the client requires adviser support. You can find more information on how to deal with vulnerable customers here.


  • Insurance is full of jargon and can be intimidating for customers, that’s why we avoid using formal wording in our online journeys and customer documents.
  • We also need to ensure our approach remains up to date and aligned to the latest medical advice. To do this, we undertake regular evidence-based reviews of our underwriting approach, including for mental health conditions and undertake regular training of our teams.

It takes Aviva. 

(i) NHS England, Mental Health https://www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/ [accessed Dec 2021]