Eur 11.09 + stigma = discrimination
by Daniela Ferro, See Change Ambassador
Eur 11.09 per month. There it was. For the next 25 years my husband and I had to pay Eur 11.09 per month extra because I answered with “Yes” when I was asked if I have “Depression/Anxiety”.
Eur 11.09 per month were not because both, my husband and me, had multiple cases of cancer in the immediate family. No, it was because of a simple yes in the box “Depression/Anxiety”.
Let’s unravel this:
In 2019 my husband and I were expecting. We had found a lovely house and were in the process of buying it. The last thing outstanding was mortgage protection insurance. I reached out to our insurance broker and asked for quotes. A formality, right? Oh little did I know.
Some of the big insurers came back and declined straight away, because “Depression/Anxiety” put me into an above 300% loading category, which meant that I was too risky to insure. Basically, they weren’t sure I would live for the next 25 years to pay off our mortgage.
I live a very good life with anxiety. I have not been diagnosed with Depression, My diagnosis is generalised anxiety disorder. So my first problem with the Eur 11.09 is that it’s based on a not very specific question.
While I understand that insurers calculate risk for every policy and that this risk is based on data, I do wonder how accurate that data really is when depression and anxiety are thrown into the same bucket. Not only that, what’s with all the other mental illnesses? There was no question about them.
What followed though was even worse. The underwriters requested a report from my GP to calculate the loading they wanted to put onto our premium. I had to disclose my full medical history to the underwriters. It didn’t make sense to me. But what could I do? We needed the insurance in order to be able to buy our new home. Without the insurance the purchase would fall through.
The GP report showed that I was well looked after by my GP, my local psychiatrist and (being 30 weeks pregnant at the time) the consultant psychiatrist at the maternity hospital. For me, the anxiety disorder was just a health condition I was (I AM) living with. Just like my slipped discs in my lower and upper spine. Just like every now and then my back would act up and I needed to go to the doctor, my anxiety did the same. It would act up and be annoying and then it would pass.
Our amazing insurance broker helped where she could to push things along. She followed up with the insurer to help us close out the purchase of the house. I was 30 weeks pregnant. We really needed to move and get nesting! (Spoiler alert: My son was born at 37 weeks. Thankfully we were living in the house by then and still are.) She came back with the new premium from the insurer, which stated:
“The premium shown above includes an extra premium of €11.09 to reflect special terms offered in respect of Daniela. This extra will be payable over the full term of the policy.”
I was raging.
I was happy.
I felt discriminated against.
I was relieved that we could finally close out the purchase of our family home.
And so we did.
Every month when the insurer takes out the premium from my account I am reminded that a label was put on me.
That the label “mental illness” was bigger and stickier than any other label such as woman, wife, mother, IT professional, knitter, crocheter, baker or zombie movie lover. To the insurance it condensed down to Eur 11.09 extra per month for the next 25 years.
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