Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW

Denied life insurance 

Conciliation: Disability discrimination in goods and services

Pubished: 7 Jun 2017

When he applied for life insurance, a man disclosed on the phone to the insurance company that he had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, had attempted suicide in the past, and was receiving treatment. He said he was willing to accept an exclusion for mental health and suicide in his policy.

The application was refused during the initial conversation. There was some further communication between the parties in which a company representative said they would consider an exclusion, and then another representative said this was not possible. He was offered a review, but was told it was unlikely to be successful if there was no new information provided.

The man made a complaint of disability discrimination. While services are generally not allowed to offer their products on different terms to people with a disability, there is an exception in the Anti-Discrimination Act which allows insurance companies to discriminate if this is based on reasonable actuarial and statistical data.

The insurance company denied that they refused to provide the man with insurance as they had offered to reconsider the application. They said they offered a simple product and there was limited scope to alter it. They provided a number of studies which they argued were in support of their decision.

At conciliation, the company offered the complainant various options for a policy which excluded mental illness and suicide, and he accepted one of these. They also offered a payment of $5,000 compensation.

The company’s representatives said they had already amended their procedures for when an applicant disclosed a mental health disorder, so they would now be referred to another party for review rather than declined automatically. The complainant was satisfied with these solutions and the complaint was resolved.

What are my rights to goods and services?

In general, you have the right to apply for and get goods or services in the same way as people who don't have a disability. People must not harass you because of your disability while you are getting goods or services. 

You also have the right to get most goods or services on the same terms as people who don't have a disability. For example, you must not be charged higher prices, or have to meet different rules

​Bac​k to June 2017 - Equal Time Newsletter​​

Related content:

Subscribe to e-newsletter​

Equal Time is the Anti-Discrimination Board’s FREE e-newsletter. 

Copyright notice and disclaimer​

You may copy, distribute, display, download and otherwise freely deal with the content of Equal Time for personal, educational or government purposes, provided that you attribute the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW as the owner.  

However, you must obtain permission if you wish to (a) charge others for the use of any content of the Board's publications or materials, (b) include any content of the Board's publications or materials in advertising or a product for sale, or (c) modify any content of the Board's publications or materials when reproducing it.  

Equal Time has been prepared by the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW for general information purposes and is not legal advice. While every care has been taken in relation to its accuracy, no warranty is given or implied   Further, recipients should obtain their own independent advice before making any decisions that rely on this information.