Aviva extends mental health cover to online addiction

Health insurer Aviva has included addiction to online gambling, gaming and social media in its mental health cover for corporate clients.

Large organisations on Aviva’s Optimum PMI product will be offered the new option, which also includes drug and alcohol addiction, as part of the insurer’s corporate mental health cover introduced last year.

Aviva said it was responding to growing evidence that smartphones enabling easy, round-the-clock access to online gambling, gaming and social media are leading to new addictive behaviour.

Aviva medical director Dr Doug Wright said: ‘While there’s no doubt that digital technology offers many benefits, it’s also driving behaviours which could increase people’s health risks.  Previously, addictions have mainly been associated with drugs and alcohol, but now the internet and smartphone apps are leading to technology-driven addictions such as online gaming and sensation-seeking entertainment as well as preoccupation with social media.

‘We have responded by broadening our mental health cover to ensure businesses can opt to extend their support for employees affected by these emerging addictions.’