MLC Life Insurance first Australian insurer to offer AI-guided mental health support | MLC Life Insurance
Media release

28 August 2023

MLC Life Insurance first Australian insurer to offer AI-guided mental health support

MLC Life Insurance continues to improve its total customer experience, as the first Australian life insurer to offer customers AI-guided mental health support, and the first in the world to offer Wysa Assure, a new version of Wysa which includes wellbeing scores to quantify mental health status for improved monitoring.

With 1 in 2 Australians likely to face a mental health related concern in their lifetime, MLC Life Insurance has partnered with Swiss Re Reinsurance Solutions, to launch a pilot of Wysa Assure, a world-leading, AI-based mental health support app that integrates Swiss Re’s risk expertise and proprietary scoring system, to help meet the growing needs of customers.

“We’re always looking for innovative ways to improve the total customer experience,” said Andrew Beevors, Chief Claims Officer for MLC Life Insurance, “and that’s why we’re proud to be pioneers in this space and to further complement our award-winning Vivo program.”

“We’re focused on delivering an industry-leading customer experience because we know how important our promise for life is to our customers, often at the most challenging times,” said Andrew Beevors. “Our ‘here for you’ philosophy means offering a personalised, caring and supportive response.”

Central to the design of Wysa Assure is an AI chatbot, built on cognitive behavioural therapy principles, that is clinically proven to improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. The app prioritises user anonymity in compliance with data protection laws and to encourage customers to feel comfortable to open up.

Wysa Assure seamlessly integrates self-care modules and MLC Life Insurance’s broader Vivo support networks, with built-in crisis escalation pathways to human care that can be triggered during AI conversation with the user, or by the user selecting an SOS feature. This innovative approach fosters proactive mental wellbeing management and encourages early support-seeking, avoiding worsening symptoms while offering a broader approach to crisis risk mitigation.

A new report from Wysa reveals that 1 in 3 working-age Australians currently suffer from moderate to severe depression or anxiety. Worryingly, 46% of those suffering have not accessed support, due to embarrassment, perceived cost, or the inability to self-diagnose need. By offering Wysa Assure, MLC Life Insurance is avoiding these barriers to access and giving customers an alternative support mechanism.

"Wysa Assure is more than a mental health tool, it is an AI companion designed to assist anyone navigating life's challenges, without them having to self-identify their needs or overcome stigma and come forward for help," added Ramakant Vempati, Co-Founder and President of Wysa. "Our mission is to make mental wellness universally accessible for everyone, and this latest agreement with MLC Life Insurance brings us a step closer to achieving that goal."

The Swiss Re Institute's 2022 consumer survey findings1 show the growing role of insurers in enhancing customers' mental resilience. One-third of respondents reported a decline in mental health, and 64% of individuals in emerging markets sought mental health support during this timeframe. Through the incorporation of Swiss Re’s scoring mechanism, customers are able to monitor their mental health.

"Swiss Re Reinsurance Solutions is committed to continuous improvement and delivering solutions that are truly customer-focused," said Carl Christensen, Head Life & Health Solutions at Swiss Re Reinsurance Solutions. “Wysa Assure embodies this ethos, focusing on enhancing mental wellbeing. It delivers risk-based scoring and reporting to insurers, underscoring the profound benefits that mental health management can introduce to their businesses."

Wysa Assure is available to existing and new MLC Life Insurance retail customers through its Vivo program. Its AI chatbot function enables users to be counselled in real time while providing recommendations for evidence-based mental health resources. Other notable features include stress-relief programs and therapeutic techniques, as well as on-demand exercises and a wellbeing score to help users maintain focus on their mental and emotional health.

Wysa Assure's efficacy is validated through extensive research demonstrating its success in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and comorbid physical health concerns, showing an average decrease of 30% in anxiety and depression-related symptoms2.

1. Swiss Re Institute: Swiss Re global COVID-19 consumer survey 2022, 01 Jun 2022
2. Inkster, B., Sarda, S., & Subramanian, V. (2018). An empathy-driven, conversational artificial intelligence agent (Wysa) for digital mental well-being: real-world data evaluation mixed-methods study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 6(11), e12106