New policy caters for mentally handicapped

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The Independent Online
MANY of Britain's 6 million people with learning difficulties or mental handicaps are consistently turned down for life assurance and personal accident protection policies, according to the charity Mencap. But it believes a scheme it is negotiating with Scottish Amicable could be a breakthrough.

Next month Scottish Amicable will launch a medium-term assurance-linked savings plan in collaboration with Mencap and Birmingham-based financial intermediaries Trident Financial Services. Premiums will start at pounds 15 per month, a rate regarded as relatively low, given the extra risk underwriters will perceive in this market.

Mencap hopes it will persuade other companies to follow suit. The idea of a special scheme has been turned down by 25 insurance companies already, and Mencap believes many of them are guilty of discrimination or ignorance about mental handicap.

The parents of a 23-year-old Down's Syndrome sufferer in Birmingham were recently turned down flat by two insurance companies when they tried to buy her a savings policy. Roger Smythe of Mencap said: 'No-one has considered the life expectancy issues of Downs' Syndrome.' A Down's Syndrome sufferer, he says, can often live to the age of 60 and will not pose substantially higher risks for the underwriters.

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