AIA celebrates its Centennial by partnering with the Mental Health Foundation

Press release from AIA below: 

Life and health insurer AIA celebrates its Centennial by partnering with the Mental Health Foundation

Significant donation to be used to support the provision of important mental health and wellbeing services in Christchurch as well as suicide prevention resources throughout New Zealand

Auckland, 5 April 2019.

AIA is celebrating its Centennial by joining forces with the Mental Health Foundation.  The partnership is aimed at raising awareness of mental wellbeing and the need for greater support across New Zealand. 

On Friday, around 1000 New Zealand-based AIA staff will take part in a 100km baton relay at their offices at Smales Farm in Auckland.  The charity relay is the first of a number of activities in AIA’s partnership with the Mental Health Foundation this year.

Having recently merged with Sovereign, one of New Zealand’s leading life and health insurers, AIA is actively focused on improving the health and wellbeing of its employees, customers, partners and all New Zealanders. 

AIA New Zealand CEO, Nick Stanhope said:

“We know that nearly half of New Zealanders will live with a mental illness at some point during their lifetime.  We also know that one-in-five New Zealanders life with mental illness each year.”

“They are shocking statistics, and by any standards, demonstrate the need for better mental health support services across New Zealand.”

“What’s more, despite the incredible progress in improving life expectancy and physical health, we still have high levels of mental illness across New Zealand.  Thankfully we have organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation. We’re thrilled to be working with them and to help bring important support services to those in need,” Mr Stanhope said.   

CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, Shaun Robinson said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with the team from AIA. Our organisations are both in the business of wellbeing and we have been impressed by the level of commitment shown by the staff at AIA – a 100km baton relay is quite an achievement.”

“Right now the focus of the Foundation is on the people of Christchurch.  AIA’s donation will allow us to continue to offer our ‘All Right?’ resources to people in need in Canterbury as well as the provision of suicide prevention services throughout New Zealand.”

“We are very grateful for our partnership with AIA and I know our people in Christchurch and throughout the country will be very grateful too,” Mr Robinson said.   

At the end of the relay, with the help of their staff who have been fundraising throughout March, AIA will donate $100,000 to the Mental Health Foundation.      

For more details, for images or videos from the relay, or to arrange for an interview, please contact Craig Glover, Head of Corporate Affairs and External Communications, on 027 275 3405.



Mental Health and Work

Mental health problems account for nearly a third of all early deaths from accidental or external means, and our record is not good in the area of treatment. The high suicide rate New Zealand has compared to countries we consider our peers has been well publicised. Although New Zealand has a high labour market participation rate, and good health of all kinds is clearly important to being able to work, it is sometimes not well understood just how important work is to mental health. Here you can find the 'Mental Health and Work: New Zealand' OECD Assessment and Recommendations. It is a good digest especially for people interested in managing mental health treatment issues in income protection claims processes, or product design.

FSC Insurance Stream Update - Mental Health - Shifting mindsets

For those of you attending the FSC conference, this is one of a series of updates on our workshops.

Given rising trends in mental health awareness and diagnosis, how is the industry responding to the challenge? How could we contribute to improving mental health outcomes? Our panel will discuss strategies from acceptance to engagement.

Our talented panel will open up the subject from definition through to challenges and cover some more practical tips later in the session - as well as being open to some of your questions. This is great for expanding your background to a significant issue for underwriting, claims, and product design. It also links strongly to operational opportunities - leveraging more skills and views through a more diverse work place.

Panel participants include: 
Shelley Cox, Head of Adviser Distribution, AMP
Jackie McGuire, Managing Director, Umbrella
Fiona Knight, Staff Welfare Officer, NZ Police 
Aych McArdle, Community Advocate and LGBTI+ Human Rights Defender, Rainbow.


Click here for conference details.


AMP Mental health awareness campaign

AMP is partnering up with Key to Life Trust and Mike King to raise awareness of youth suicide rates in NZ. 'The I AM HOPE tour is about raising awareness and encouraging communities and individuals to drive the attitudinal and social change that is needed to reverse the incidence of suicide and depression.' Click here to hear more from Mike King on this.




Men, suicide, and four types of silence

Dr Chris Bowden from Victoria University has done some new research revealing that key aspect of young men’s experiences of suicide bereavement is ubiquitous silence. 'His research found the men experienced four types of silence following the suicide of a close friend: personal, private, public and analytic silence.' Click here to read more and to watch the interview with Dr Bowden. 

Causes of Death and Non-Underwritten Products

A little while ago we blogged about the causes of death, the main causes do not change a lot in short periods of time, so the table below, based on Ministry of Health data from 2011, is still a good views of the main causes. The reason for returning to this is to consider the causes of death in relation to the exclusions common in non-underwritten policies. 

Pre-existing conditions, whether with a blanket cut-off at application, or with the ability to include them after five years without recurrence or treatment, are most likely to affect the categories of cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory diseases. What proportion of these causes are likely to emerge from a pre-existing condition or pre-disposition?

Now look at some of the other categories - take accidents, at 15% of the causes of death, and recall the exclusions relating to heights, speeds, presence on a building site, and certain occupations. 

Lastly, look at the rate for suicide, which might also be considered a death from depression or mental illness, this is one of the top five causes of death at 8% of this group, exceeding the level for strokes. Many of the non-underwritten policies contain long suicide exclusion clauses (up to five years), and increasingly bank insurers are lengthening their exclusion clauses as well (up to three years). 

These are the factors behind the recent changes made by Quality Product Research to the increased penalty for pre-existing conditions exclusions in the product quality database for Momentum Life and ASB Easylife. Other non-underwritten products will be added to the database and scored along similar lines. 


Causes of death top five 30 to 54

Underwriting Mental Health Conditions

Jenée Tibshraeny at has written an excellent article on the issue of insurers underwriting people with mental health conditions. I think Tibshraeny does a great job of explaining the consumer position - even advocating for it - while explaining the industry position too.

There is a gap. Some people with mental health conditions may not be treated fairly in the underwriting process, and recent events are, maybe, changing the environment, and insurers are slow to change. They must be, insurers need good data before changing their views, or else they may be exposed to lots of new claims. In Australia there is a problem with income protection, and mental illness is contributing to that. For a complex issue to get covered in this way is both important and rare. I was glad to see it done so well. You can read the article at this link.

Stephen Potter, head of underwriting at Fidelity Life, did a great job of explaining the underwriting process, and in so doing, explaining how it is really good to have an adviser involved.