AFA wants tighter controls on mental health diaries

The Association of Financial Advisers (AFA) wants a set of standards and time frames for using daily diaries of those making mental health claims. The AFA was questioned as part of a parliamentary life insurance inquiry hearing, whereby the AFA's general manager of policy and professionalism, Samantha Clarke, stated: 'We question how a daily activity diary completed by a person claiming to be mentally unwell can be beneficial to understanding their claim.' 

Clarke went on to say that there must be a health professional's consideration of the matter of how a very detailed examination of a person's activities can affect their condition. 

Typically, Clarke said, daily diaries are often used for claims that exceed three months of income stream payments, and are used to get people off claims by using their own diaries of activity to measure their 'wellness' or ability. 

Clarke said, 'Even parolees who have actually been found guilty of criminal activity in an independent court of law do not have this level of scrutiny into their daily movements. 

'Although fraud does unfortunately take place, it is and should be approached as the exception to the rule.' 

The AFA's stance is that insurers need to be clear about the purpose of the diaries and the information collected, with advice obtained from the person's healthcare professional that proves such a diary will assist in their recovery. The policyholder shoulds then be armed with that information - with their practitioner's blessing  - so they know what it's for. 

The end of the statement asks the parliamentary joint committee to seek evidence from insurance companies regarding their use of daily diaries and consider their ongoing use. Additionally, the AFA believes that daily diary use should be limited to one or two months, but be dependent on the claimant's personal circumstances.